Tuesday, December 04, 2012

beef stew or beef pot pie filling

This is the basic beef treatment I've been experimenting with. I think I finally got it where I want it. I've been making a stovetop stew with it, but it would also be a good filling for beef pot pie, with a lard crust or biscuits baked over the top. These are only approximate amounts, since I never measure.

Take a pound of beef chuck stew meat or arm roast with some fat on it. Place in heavy stock pot with enough water to half-cover meat. Mince up half an onion and throw in. Add a dollop of olive oil or butter if desired to enrich flavor. Add a couple tablespoons of soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, about a quarter-cup of cooking sherry, and a couple cubes of beef bullion.

Season with 1 tsp. rosemary, 1 tsp thyme, 1/4 tsp. white pepper, pinch of cayenne, plus salt & black pepper to taste. Cover tightly and simmer medium-low for two hours. You may want to remove meat after one hour, trim any bone or excess fat and cut into bite-sized pieces. Don't skim the broth! Beef fat is good for you.

After trimming out the meat, I usually add some beef broth/drippings from my freezer. Every time I make a roast, I either save the pan juices or make them into gravy; if there's gravy leftover I freeze that, too. When I make a stew or pot pie, I thaw one of those small tubs of gravy and add them to the pot. Roasted beef bones add wonderful richness and gelatin to the sauce. But that's just me bragging and you don't have to do it.

When meat is nicely tender, it's time to add vegetables. For stew typically I use 3-4 red potatoes, a couple of carrots, and frozen green peas because that's what I like with my beef gravy. Add the vegetables, with just enough additional water to let everything swim freely. Cook low, covered, for another 30-45 minutes until the potatoes are tender and the liquid is slightly reduced. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

Make a slurry of cornstarch or arrowroot starch with cold water and stir rapidly into the simmering stew, to thicken. Once this is done it can be kept warm or reheated without harm. As long as it is stirred occasionally and not allowed to get too dry, it can continue to simmer for another hour or more; it will only improve in flavor and texture.

For a pot pie, just allow the vegetables to simmer for 10-15 minutes while you prepare the pie crust and preheat the oven, then dump the stew into a casserole dish and slap a crust on top. Bake according to crust requirements.

Other vegetable combinations could be used. Turnips and rutabaga are great with beef, and many people like celery. Or you could just dump in a bag of frozen mixed vegetables for a quick-and-dirty job.

A pound of stew meat, 3-4 cups diced red potatoes and a couple of carrots make four generous servings.

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