Monday, October 12, 2009
Italian-style Beef Stew
Today it's Columbus Day, or Native Peoples Day, depending on where your politics are.
Either way, it was still a holiday.
I went to work for a couple hours and then took my kids out to a movie.
Since it was quite chilly, beef stew seemed the way to go for dinner. I bought two 1 1/2 pound packs of beef stew cubes and made beef stew two ways, this one and Japanese beef curry.
I'm teaching my girls how to cook without recipes, so I laid out the meat and asked my girls how many potatoes and carrots they thought they should have in ratio to the meat. I then asked how big they thought the potatoes and carrots should be cut, so they could stand with the big cubes of beef.
For the almost 3 lbs. of meat, they picked three potatoes and three carrots. After we cut up the veggies in medium-sized pieces, they thought there was too much potato, so we didn't use all the potato.
I'm glad they're learning to eyeball ingredients and make judgements along the way.
They learned a few more lessons, including how much aromatics (onions, garlic, etc.) they could use, the choice and ratio of liquids (beef broth, water, wine, tomato puree, etc.), and the variety of herbs and spices they could employ.
The best part of learning how to cook is being rewarded with dinner. Good job, girls!
Italian-style Beef Stew
1 1/2 lb. beef stew meat, dried and salted and peppered
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups beef broth
3/4 cup cabernet sauvignon
1/2 a large can of whole plum tomatoes (5 of the tomatoes chopped, and 2/3 cup of the tomato juice in the can) or you can use 1 small can of chopped tomatoes.
2 medium-sized carrots, peeled and cut in medium-sized pieces
2 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and cut in medium-sized pieces
1 pack of mushrooms, cleaned and cut in halves or thirds
A few dried mushrooms, soaked in a little hot water
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 bay leaf
Heat a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add a little oil and brown meat on all sides, making sure that there is air space all around the meat and the pan is not crowded. Cook meat in batches if necessary and set aside.
Turn down heat to medium, add a little more oil, and brown onions until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic at the last minute of cooking.
Add back meat to the pot and add beef broth, wine and tomatoes. Keep the skillet you used to brown the meat and onions to use for the mushrooms. Bring to a simmer and cook until beef is tender, about 1 1/2 hours. (You can also do this in pressure cooker and cook the beef for 35 minutes or cook it in the oven at 350 for 1 1/2 hours).
While the beef is cooking, heat up the skillet over medium-high heat and add a little oil. Cook the mushrooms until they're browned. Salt and pepper and set aside.
When the dried mushrooms that you have been soaking in hot water have softened, cut them in small pieces. With a fine strainer, strain the mushroom water to remove any dirt and then add the chopped mushrooms back. Set aside.
When the beef is tender, add the potatoes, carrots, mushrooms and mushroom juice, and cook at a simmer until the potatoes and carrots are tender.
Adjust seasonings and serve with noodles or rice.