17 January 2011

Beef Stew with Cognac and Roasted Vegetables (and a quick browning tutorial)

"Waiter, there's a tree in my stew."

As it turns out, my extremely limited food photography skillz made it difficult for me to capture an appealing picture of beef stew.  But rosemary is pretty!  And also one of the ingredients!

See the bit of beef on the right?  It's brown, but not BROWNED. The piece on the left is going to give your stew much more flavor.  You want all of your stew meat to look like this before adding the onions, carrots and garlic and deglazing the pan.  

Carrots and garlic...add after sweating the onions and about 1 min before deglazing the pan.

Organic beef stock base

A cast of characters...er, herbs. 

Homemade whole-wheat bread from the book, Healthy Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day
If you like making your own bread, you must check out this book!  You basically just stir the ingredients together in a big bowl, let it rise for a bit, then throw the whole batch into the fridge until you're ready to shape and bake.  The method is as easy as using a bread machine but the bread is so. much. yummier. 
Check out the blog for more info!  

NOTE A:  This isn't much of a recipe b/c quite honestly, I threw it together late one afternoon based on what sounded tasty to me.  But I suspect most of you reading this don't follow recipes that closely anyway, so hopefully the bare bones will give you enough info to work with.  Feel free to comment if you have any questions!
NOTE B: This was a two-day process and TOTALLY worth it.  I cooked most of the stew on a Monday afternoon, let it cool a bit and then threw it in the refrigerator overnight.  The next evening all I had to do was roast off the potatoes and mushrooms, warm up the stew and stir it all together with a little fresh rosemary before serving.  Like most soups/stews, the flavors were so much more intense after giving it a chance to hang out for 24 hours.  

Beef Stew with Cognac and Roasted Vegetables
4 servings

Ingredients for stew:
  • 1 lb. beef stew meat, cut into bite-sized pieces 
  • 2 T flour 
  • 1/2 tsp salt 
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper 
  • 1 T olive oil 
  • 1 T unsalted butter 
  • 1 medium onion, chopped 
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 medium carrots 
  • 3-4 cups beef stock 
  • 1/2-3/4 cup dry red wine 
  • 1/4 cup cognac  
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary 
  • 1 tsp dried parsley 
  • 1 bay leaf 
  • 1/4 tsp gr. mustard 
  • fresh rosemary (2-3 T) 

Roasted Veggies:
  • 1 large russet potato, cleaned and diced (I prefer to keep the skin on!)
  • 1 1/2 cups cremini mushrooms, cleaned, stems removed 
  • 1 T balsamic vinegar 
  • olive oil, salt, pepper  

1. Toss the beef with the flour, salt and pepper
2. Heat dutch oven or heavy stockpot over med-high heat until HOT.
3. Coat the pan with the oil and butter then add beef, in one layer, making sure each piece has at least one side touching the pan.
4. Let sit and get nicely browned (see photo) on at least one side before using tongs to turn each piece.
5. When all beef is mostly browned, move to the sides of the pan and toss onion into the center of the pan, stirring lightly.  Add more oil if necessary.
6. When onions are translucent, stir in carrots and garlic.  Stir and cook for about 1 min. or until garlic is fragrant.
7. Deglaze the pan with the wine and cognac, scraping up browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  
8. Stir in stock, dried rosemary, dried parsley, the bay leaf and ground mustard. 
9. Bring to a boil.
10. Reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer for about 3 hours, stirring when necessary. 
11.  Turn off heat, cool slightly and refrigerate overnight.

Before serving
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Toss potatoes with oil, salt and pepper.  Roast for about 45-60 min or until browned. 
3. Toss mushrooms with oil, salt, pepper and balsamic.  Roast for about 20 min.  (Do this just before serving.)
4. Heat stew on low until warmed through.  Check for seasonings and add more salt/pepper if necessary.  5. Stir in roasted potatoes, mushrooms and fresh rosemary.
6.  Serve in deep bowls with fat pieces of crusty bread with butter.  Preferably on a cold, winter day. 

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