Sunday, December 21, 2008

Stew weather

Winter Solstice arrived today first thing in the morning, but winter has been making itself known for several weeks in the northeast already. This weekend has featured rain, sleet and snow, plus slush, ice and standing water on roadways. Ick. It was the perfect weekend to make a pot of stew.

Stew is a forgiving dish. I don't think I've ever made it the same way twice. This time, this is how I did it.

Take some cubed beef chuck (I bought about a pound from the local high-end supermarket) and brown it in a pot in some oil (I used vegetable oil but in retrospect, olive oil wouldn't have been bad, either). Add one large sliced onion, two chopped potatoes and two chopped carrots, two cups of vegetarian broth (I used The Spice Hunter's "Clear Seasoned Stock" mix), a dash of shoyu (a packet left over from some takeout sushi), a bay leaf, about a tablespoon of tomato paste, and several dashes of Worcestershire sauce and Outerbridge's pepper sherry. Season with salt and cracked black pepper, bring to a boil, cover and let simmer until, well, whenever. I think my stew went between an hour and a half and two hours before the beef cubes I fished out for tasting purposes were suitably tender (and I probably could have let it go longer). The key is to keep checking the stew until it suits your taste.

At the end, I had tender meat and veggies, plus a lot of tasty juices; when I have some of the leftovers today, I'll probably serve it over rice (the better to soak up the juice). You could also use bread to mop up. The said juices were lighter than I expect, with a more complex flavor; I bet adding some sliced ginger would clarify and brighten the flavor even more.

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