Friday, September 18, 2009
Making Beef Stew
The harvest from the garden turned out to be really meager. We had a couple decent potatoes and lots of pathetic ones, about four beets the size of marbles, a single beautiful zucchini, a nice handful of carrots that Milly ate pretty fast (she said they tasted just like carrots from Ghana!), and some cherry tomatoes that we think weren't supposed to be so "cherry." And one mournful, twisted, tiny purple pepper. But the time had come! And so we harvested and cooked it all up into a stew and fed it to our favorite masses. Also with some pumpkin soup, courtesy of "our pumpkin" (we nabbed it off of U of R campus), lots of nice autumnal bread, a blueberry tart that turned out weird, and a pumpkin-cream cheese pie.
Honestly, I haven't eaten any stew so I don't know if it turned out well. For some reason, yesterday, I had no appetite for meat. But I think it turned out well-- a lot of it got eaten (then again, there were 11? people there). It looked and smelled wonderful! So I will transcribe Mom's stew instructions. Thanks Mom!
If you want to thicken the stew:
Mix about 2 T. flour with some salt and pepper and paprika in a gallon zip lock bag. Put your meat cubes into the bag and toss them about until the meat has picked up all the flour. Brown the meat in your stew pot in 1 to 2 T. oil or fat. Then add your liquid (beef broth or water) and stir until the flour is all distributed in the liquid. You can also saute your onions, but it isn't necessary.
If you prefer a clear broth:
You don't need to cook the meat first. Fill your pot about halfway with liquid of your choice. Turn on the heat fairly high and add your meat. As the meat begins to cook, prepare your vegetables.
Add the vegetables as you get them prepared (in most cases). Carrots are hardest, so add them first. Then onion, then potato. Bring it to a boil, then turn the heat down to let the stew cook at a high simmer. Count on 1 1/2 to 2 hours total cooking time. Add fresh green beans and fresh corn and bell pepper about 40 minutes before the end. Add herbs about 1/2 hour before the end, except for bay leaves, which should be added at the beginning. If you used canned tomato, you can add it at about any time. I would wait until about half way through, so that the carrot and potato have a chance to soften. Add garlic at the beginning. At any point you can add more broth to attain sufficient liquid. Remember also that anytime you add something you will cool down the stew, so the temperature needs to raised temporarily to maintain simmering. Salt according to taste, but a rule of thumb is 1 t. per quart.