Tag Archives: stew

alice waters’ beef stew

24 Jan

You’d never know, but just a couple weeks ago, it was freezing in SF. I’m talking 40’s by day and sub-30’s by night! Of course today, it’s mid-60’s and sunshine full-blast. I took to the pavement in a t-shirt and new running shoes trying to work off some holiday el bees.

Case and point, I had recently been feeding my hibernation bear belly with Alice Waters’ Beef Stew. It’s the real deal from The Art of Simple Food cookbook — a great primer for anyone who’s interested in learning the basics.

Waters’ recipe for beef stew is really a classic beef bourguignon with a nod to the garden. It’s thick, rich and hearty with satisfying hunks of fork-tender beef and just a hint of vegetables. I loved the flavors of mulling spice imparted by cloves that cleverly are embedded into the onions quarters, plus the zip of orange zest. I used a nice cut of marbled flatiron steak aka top blade chuck, which softened up in closer to two hours than three. For wine, I used a Trader Joes fave, a dry Italian red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Montepulciano, called Tentatre Rosso for ~$7. Is your bear belly grumbling yet?

beef stew
adapted from Alice Waters

* 3 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1.5-inch cubes, seasoned with coarse salt and fresh ground pepper (a day ahead if possible)
* 3 slices of bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
* 2 tablespoons oil
* 2 carrots, chopped into 2-inch chunks
* 2 stalks of celery, chopped into 1/2-inch chunks
* 2 medium onions, quartered
* 2 whole cloves, stuck into a quarter of onion
* 2 sprigs each of thyme, parsley, and savory
* 1 bay leaf
* a few peppercorns
* 3 tablespoons brandy (optional)
* 1 3/4 cups red wine
* 3 tomatoes, diced (fresh or canned)
* a small head of garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
* 1 thin strip of orange zest
* 2 cups beef stock
* 2 baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1.5-inch cubes

Heat the oil in a heavy skillet and cook bacon until fat is rendered and bacon is lightly browned, but not crisp. Remove bacon.

In batches, brown the beef on all sides in the bacon fat. Put meat into a heavy pot or braising dish. Lower heat and pour off most of the fat from the skillet. Cook the carrots, celery, and onions with the herbs, bay leaf, and peppercorns until lightly browned. Add to the beef in pot/dish.

Raise heat of empty skillet and add the brandy, then the red wine. Scrape up the browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pot and reduce wine by two-thirds. Pour over the beef and vegetables in the pot.

Add the tomatoes, garlic, orange zest, and broth to the pot. The liquid should come up at least 3/4 of the way up to the top of the beef/vegetables; add more broth if needed. It does not need to cover the ingredients entirely.

Cover and cook at a bare simmer on the stovetop, or in a 325-degree oven for 2-3 hours until meat falls apart when tested with a fork. Add potatoes 30 minutes before done. Check the stew occasionally to make sure it’s not boiling and there is enough liquid.

Let stew rest for a few minutes before serving and skim off layer of fat on top. Season to taste with salt and serve over rice, egg noodles, or with crusty bread. Serves 6.

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kabocha, gobo and pork stew

25 Oct


Food and weather. Any mathematically inclined cook will tell you the two are inversely proportional: Heat wave, ice cream. Chilly rain, stew.

After a handful of Indian summer days in October, blustery weather and frigid rain has finally set in. Not wanting to stray far from home, I headed to the Chinese grocery store for kabocha (pumpkin), gobo (burdock root) and pork shoulder.

I love kabocha pumpkin for its creamy texture, petite size (easy to handle), and quick-cooking (when compared with the other squashes of the season). There’s a heartiness and sweetness to its yellow flesh, plus you can eat the nutritious green skin. Kabocha is a favorite of the Japanese, who serve it simply boiled, hot or cold as a vegetable side dish.

To make it a complete one-pot meal, I decided to braise some pork shoulder with the kabocha and an earthy Japanese root vegetable called gobo. Served over steaming hot white rice, this Japanese stew becomes the highlight of any rainy evening.

kabocha, gobo and pork stew
a culinary haiku about sunshine on a rainy day

* 1 lb pork shoulder
* 2 lbs kabocha pumpkin
* 2 foot-long pieces of gobo (burdock root), peeled and sliced diagonally into 1/4″-thick pieces
* 2 tablespoons flour
* 5 cups dashi
* 1/4 cup mirin
* 1/3 cup soy sauce
* 1/2 cup sugar

Cut meat into 2-inch pieces and pat dry with paper towels (do not rinse). Spread meat on a large piece of waxed paper or the butcher paper it came in. Sprinkle flour over meat, toss to coat, then shake meat in a colander to rid it of excess flour; do in batches if the colander is small.

Coat bottom of a 5- to 7-quart Dutch oven with a thin film of oil and set pot over medium-high heat. When oil shimmers, add enough meat to cover bottom in 1 layer. Cook, without stirring, until meat lifts easily from pot with tongs and is well browned on bottom, about 5 minutes. Turn and brown on the other side, about 5 minutes more. Transfer meat to a plate and continue with remaining meat, adding more oil to pot in between batches as needed.

When last batch of meat has been removed, add some of the dashi to pot, stirring to released browned bits. Return meat and any accumulated juices to pot. Add gobo and all of the remaining ingredients except for the kabocha to pot. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 60 minutes or until meat is tender.

Meanwhile, with a large, heavy knife, cut the kabocha in half through stem end. Scoop out and discard seeds and strings. Cut kabocha into 1-inch chunks.

After meat has cooked 1 hour add kabocha to the pot. Let liquid come to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer 30 minutes more. Serve over white rice.

Serves 6.