Thursday, February 03, 2022

Beef Stew

      It turned out pretty good.  Maybe even better.

      We had a couple of nice oxtail sections, some skirt steak (!) and a little under a pound of stew beef.  I gave it some (truffle) salt and pepper and browned it, starting with the oxtail, then let it simmer in beef stock for an hour with a couple of bay leaves.  I set timers for one, two and three hours.

      Tam had bought a nice assortment of vegetables -- a big rutabaga, a tart Granny Smith apple, parsnips, fennel bulb, celery, large white onion, oyster mushrooms and potatoes.

      Rutbagas take a fair amount of cooking (and no small amount of peeling first), so the big yellow swede was the first in, cut into slabs, each slab seasoned with something different (smoked paprika, garam masala, garlic powder, truffle salt and pepper, vegetable spice mix), then diced into rough 3/8" cubes and tossed in the pot.  (This may be a silly way to add spices but it works).  The peeled and diced apple followed, with ginger and a little more garam masala.  While the rutabaga simply needs time to cook, my hope for the apple was that it would cook down and help thicken the broth, which it did.  By the time that was done, the first timer had beeped.

      I took my time peeling and chopping a couple of big parsnips.  Don't overlook these flavorful relatives of the carrot when you are making soups and stews.  Parsnips have a complex, spicy flavor that adds a lot to soups and stews.  The onion followed, then I did dishes to pass a little time and returned to the stove afterward to add a couple of stalks of celery and the fennel bulb, cut up.  That got to the two-hour timer.

      Followed with a few small, colorful potatoes -- purple, pink and white -- cut into quarters.  I cleaned the oyster mushrooms, cut the largest in half, and added them at the three-hour mark.  (The potatoes got about 45 minutes).

      While the mushrooms simmered with the stew, I set a half-hour timer and fished out the oxtails.  After letting them cool a little, I cut most of the meat off the bone, saved the fat for Tam, and put the meat and bones back in the pot.  It's best to let the bones cook as long as possible; there's a lot of flavor in them and it's the best way to get the last of the meat from them.

      When the timer went off, I gave the broth a taste.  It was ready, and so good!  We had a bowl and a half each, and froze the rest for later.   Savory and full of umami, the vegetables were just right.  That particular mix seems to go especially well with slow-simmered meat.

      The ice storm was was not as bad as it might have been, turning to snow before it built up too badly.  We never lost power.  It may yet happen, but the cause is more likely to be a motorist's misjudgement than ice-weighted trees or power lines.  The best part was standing outside, listening to the chiming crackle of tiny ice particles falling, colliding, and sticking the roof and ground.

1 comment:

Zendo Deb said...

I had some oxtail soup in the freezer. Thanks for convincing me to pull it out.

Stew is the perfect cold weather food.