Slow-cooked in dark stock, red wine and beer, fork-tender pieces of beef and perfectly-cooked vegetables are surrounded by...
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Let me start by saying that I don't know that I've ever made a stew. If I did, it was so many years ago I can't recall. What I can tell you is that I've never made a stew like the one I just had for dinner. It is sooooo gooooood! I didn't have some of the ingredients (beer, beef stock) and it STILL turned out great. I also messed up on the directions but didn't realize until I was halfway through. Luckily this stew is very forgiving. Leaving it refrigerate for a day also added a wonderful flavor profile that was much better today than yesterday. I can only imagine what it would be like if I had all of the ingredients and actually followed the directions. Maybe next time. I will definitely be making this again.
I tried this recipe but I guess there wasn't enough time for the meat to absorb the taste of the stew, the taste of wine in the meat was still pretty strong after 2 hours in the oven. In lieu of the oven, how does using a pressure cooker differ from slow cooking?
Pressure cookers work just fine, at a fraction of the time. May I suggest adding the wine before the stock and cooking it out a bit first to evaporate its alcohol and strong wine flavor. Also, rest the stew for at least 20 minutes before serving to mellow the flavor. Cheers!
Before making another stew, I encourage you to watch the lesson on "Stewing" as this will guide you through the whole process and show you where and when one can change up the flavors. In fact, for the best understanding of stewing and moist-heat cooking in general, I would also encourage you to watch the lesson called "Combination Cooking Fundamentals" as well. Cheers!
In Puerto Rico we make something very similar called "Carne Guisada" (they make it in Texas, and in South America as well there are different variations, but it is pretty much the same). We use the same cut of meat, however we don't' make a slurry at the end to thicken it we use a sofrito (which is basically peppers, onions, garlic, tomatoes, ajice dulces (sweet perennial peppers) , culantro (not to be confused with cilantro) which is pulsed in a food processor (basically a pulsed mirepoix), tomato sauce, and sometimes the break down of the potatoes will thicken it as well. However I made this version and it came out spectacular, I made a lot and my wife and I ate for three days with some jasmine rice.
I sure do:
beef stew meat (season with salt and pepper and dredged in flour (optional), vegetable oil, 1/2 cup homemade sofrito, some chopped stuffed olives, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1 can Spanish-Style Tomato Sauce
4 C Beef Stock, bouquet garni(with cloves), 3-4 potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 medium Spanish onions,
3 cubanelle peppers
head of garlic
a bunch of cilantro
a few ajices dulces
3 ripe plum tomatoes
1 large red bell pepper, seeds removed
add oil and sear dredge meat, remove add sofritio, then add olives & cumin, place meat back in and tomato sauce, add stock ad bouquet boil then simmer cook for about 1 hour add potatoes about half way through. At this point you can add a slurry if you wish or add some brunoise of potatoes after adding the stock to thicken it if it needs to be thickened. serve with white rice and tostones (plantains)
This is the way my grandmother use to make it and my mother makes it.
... I don't know what happened. I bought good ingredients, used stout and store bought but fresh stock, pork belly, fresh potatoes & celeriac & carrot & onions
... The only major difference, was cooking it on the stove top and not in the oven; however, I made sure it remained at a gentle simmer throughout. Within 1.5 hours the potatoes (which were in fairly large chucks) were falling apart while the meat (in smallish chunks) was ok but not fork tender.
In addition, the stewing liquid was incredibly bland! I just couldn't understand it with the herbs, flavoured liquids and stock, no extra water added. I even added extra stout and a stout slurry to try and add extra flavour while not letting it thin too much. I added fresh english mustard, loads of black pepper. I'm getting some flavour now but I've really had to fight to get a flavourful liquid.
Maybe I'm getting a cold and my tastebuds are going, maybe the pork I used rendered too much fat which watered down the other flavours? Maybe the stock I used didn't impart enough flavour, maybe my beef was too lean?
Just when I think I've got it down, I realise I have so much more to learn and internalise.
I ike the way you ended your observation. Yes, Kevin, there's always a lot more to learn. Based on your comments (what you noticed, what adjustments you tried, what you think perhaps were the issues), you ARE learning more, THINKING more - THAT's the path to getting it down.
I'm not a big fan of the cooktop method unless you have a very heavy duty pot with very tight-fitting lid. I also believe it takes at least 3 hours to get flavor transfer between liquids and meats. Also, was enough salt to the preparation to initiate osmosis?
Perhaps your meat was indeed too lean. And if not yet tender, not cooked long enough. Next time, do it in a low oven for a much longer period of time. Omit potatoes in the beginning, as they'll neutralize flavors once they go to mush (usually added with stronger tasting meats like lamb). I'd make mashed potatoes on the side for this lovely dish.
But based on your last line (especially the word "internalize"), and trust me on this one, you're on the exact right path to very good cooking. I too remind myself I have a lot more to learn and digest.
I have been thinking a lot since initially doing the dish and I am inclined to agree that the stove top method made a big difference - as per your post. I didn't presalt the meat; mainly I thought that would just add saltiness and didn't consider what other functions the salt might have had in extracting flavour. I do think the meat was lean and next time I think I'll try using a different cut like Oxtail and/or cheek.
I only chose the stove top method at the time because my pyrex oven dish wasn't big enough and last time I tried it the stew leaked all over the oven. Having compared this and another recipe where it was cooked on the hob I made a last minute decision to try the other method; assuming I could approximate the same result. I neglected to note that in the hob method recipe it indeed added the veg much later - in itself highlighting how the different methods give markedly different results.
Needless to say I'm having a lot of "aha!" moments reading your response and encouraged I guess that I was able to reason out what my problems may have been based on the principles you've outlined.
I made this stew last night and gave it a 100% success rating because it turned out beautifully in the end.
I had one small problem when I went to thicken the sauce with the flour/water mixture in that I ended up with lumps in the gravy and had to strain the lumps out before adding the vegetables and meat back in. The gravy turned out silky smooth and just at the right consistency. I'm just wondering what I did wrong. I had the sauce at a simmer and added a small amount of the flour/water mixture at a time, whisking after each addition and bringing the sauce back to a simmer before adding more. Should I have been whisking the sauce as I added the flour/water? That's the only thing I can think of that created the lumps. Any help with this would be greatly appreciated.
Reading the details of how you made your stew, 2 things may have given you lumps. First, make sure the slurry is relatively thin. It should pour, and of course, it needs to be lump-less, so ensure that it is. Secondly, try whisking while pouring the slurry in. These 2 things will ensure that you have no lumps.
Congratulations on not getting discouraged and finding a way to fix it by straining it. You already think like a cook. Whatever happened you found a solution. In the end, only you knew and your guests were delighted.