Tuesday, December 18, 2012

of French Mustard and Beef Stew

Probably the best thing about fall, besides the gorgeous kaleidoscope of colors here in DC is the change in temperature. Gone are the Amazonian summers in America's Swamp as the city takes on a fresh new season. Brisk mornings and chilly evenings replace the sweltering heat and crushing humidity. It finally feels like you can breathe again. Fall in DC is something to be experienced. The oranges, reds, yellows, and purples which dot the city streets and the national mall give the whole place a different feel. I love my morning runs when leaves crush under my feet as I head toward the Tidal Basin as well as the need to wear a coat out when I hit the town at night. And so in honor of fall and in deference to the fabulous weather I felt like making a homey and soul satisfying dish.

I originally tested this recipe on my roommates during our time off for Hurricane Sandy. We were extremely lucky in that we had power throughout the frankenstorm and other then a few downed trees, very little damage in our neighborhood. The local Safeway was out of many of the ingredients I needed to make the dish I originally intended to make but they had everything I wanted for the stew minus mushrooms; luckily Trader Joes had them today. The dish takes a bit of time, and I'm sure it could possibly be done in the crock, but I feel like there is nothing better than stove simmered stew. The way the flavors meld but don't break is at once fascinating and rather inspiring. Additionally the fond (what those little bits that stick to the bottom of a pan are called) created through the browning process pack a flavor punch that continues to blow me away once the pan has been properly deglazed. Don't be intimidated by the process, I have a very simple method and the stew is absolutely worth it!

Today's Cast of Characters:

The most important thing to remember with stew is that you can get a cheaper cut of beef and it will probably turn out more delicious. In that respect I got a huge chunk of Bottom Round and butchered it up quite nicely with a sharp knife into bite size pieces the first time I cooked this. Today I used prepackaged stew meat from Trader Joe's. Carrots, onion, and mushrooms are also musts with this recipe to create that hearty, earthy, rich taste I've come to associate with the dish. My favorite part of the stew is the potatoes. Today I used itty bitty potatoes but you can also use smaller ones cut in half or larger ones cut into six or eight pieces. To create the base of the stew a few ounces of beef stock (don't use broth, trust me on this), some grey poupon or other type of dijon mustard, and a little bit of tomato paste combine with a host of spices and the fond created by the flour mix you dip the beef pieces into. Some olive oil for browning up the beef, a bay leaf, and some fresh basil to finish off the dish complete the well rounded list of ingredients.

What to Do:

First In large bag combine flour, herbs de Provence , 1 teaspoon pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add beef and shake to coat. Get your oil going on medium high in the meantime. Today I used a 5.5 qt dutch oven but you can use any big pot you may have lying around. I like the way the cast iron browns meat the best so thats what I try to use.

Chop up your veggies and put them all in a bowl. They all get added at the same time so its convenient. I like to have hearter portions of veggies in stew so I just give the carrots a rough chop, make thick half moons with the onion and cut the mushrooms into a few pieces. Today the potatoes just needed a quick wash but if I use bigger potatoes I chop them in half.

Now its time to brown the beef. Reserve the excess flour but remove your coated beef from the bag and throw it in the pot. Don't be scared by the flour getting stuck and making a brown mess in the bottom of your pan. That's the fond I was talking about before and that is where the flavor magic happens.

Once the beef is browned, stir in onions, carrots, mushrooms, and potatoes. Cook and stir for about three minutes then stir in tomato paste, mustard, and remaining flour mixture. Things should start smelling heavenly.

Next add the beef stock a little at a time while stirring the mix and scraping the bottom of the pan. The fond should come right off after a few ominous sizzles and you stock will taste all the better for it. Once all the beef stock is in add the bay leaf.

Bring your mix up to boiling and then reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer one and a half hours until beef is almost tender. Snip in some basil and cook another 30 minutes. The beef is basically done before the basil goes in but I just love making it even more tender.

Before eating, remove and discard bay leaf. I generally serve this up in bowls with a bit of crusty bread for sopping up all the deliciousness. Enjoy!


French Mustard and Beef Stew

Ingredients:

1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tbsp Herbs de Provence
1 tbsp snipped fresh basil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 ½ to 2 pounds boneless beef chuck, cut in approximately 1 inch pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 or 2 medium onions peeled and cut in wedges
5 or 6 carrots
1 8 ounce package cremini mushrooms
1 package itty bitty potatoes or 8-10 small red potatoes halved
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons Dijon Mustard
1 32 ounce package beef stock
1 bay leaf


Directions:

1. In large bag combine flour, herbs de Provence , thyme, 1 teaspoon pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add beef and shake to coat. Get your oil going on medium high in the meantime.
2. Chop up your veggies and put them all in a bowl. I just give the carrots a rough chop, make thick half moons with the onion and cut the mushrooms into a few pieces.
3. Reserve the excess flour but remove your coated beef from the bag and throw it in the pot and stir occasionally until brown.
4. Once the beef is browned, stir in onions, carrots, mushrooms, and potatoes. Cook and stir for about three minutes then stir in tomato paste, mustard, and remaining flour mixture.
5. Next add the beef stock a little at a time while stirring the mix and scraping the bottom of the pan. The fond should come right off after a few ominous sizzles and you stock will taste all the better for it. Once all the beef stock is in add the bay leaf.
6. Bring your mix up to boiling and then reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer one and a half hours until beef is almost tender. Snip in some basil and cook another 30 minutes. The beef is basically done before the basil goes in but I just love making it even more tender.
7. Before eating, remove and discard bay leaf. I generally serve this up in bowls with a bit of crusty bread for sopping up all the deliciousness. Enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. It was very yummy! And even more delicious as a leftover!

    ReplyDelete