Oh yeah. The fact that my fingers are going numb with cold right now tells me it’s comfort food season. And what’s more comforting than a nice beef stew?
The other day at Costco I went a bit nuts and purchased one of their large packages of excellent stewing beef. ”I’ll make boeuf Bourgignon,” I said, forgetting two important things: 1) I am horribly allergic to red wine; and 2) I do not own a Dutch oven.
First I started off by roasting some of my vegetables. That’s 1 head garlic, with the top chopped off, 1 package white mushrooms chopped in half, and 1 package pearl onions, peeled.
Drizzle those with olive oil and roast at 400°F for about half an hour, and give the onions and mushrooms a good stir about halfway through.
Then I peeled and roughly chopped 3 parsnips and 4 carrots, and a small bunch of celery. And some potatoes, which aren’t in this shot. How many potatoes? I don’t remember. I didn’t take a picture of them.
That all goes straight into the pot.
You can tip in the roasted onions and mushrooms, too.
Save the garlic on a plate for a little bit.
Now you can work on your meat, and this is going to take a while. This is whatever size the package of stewing beef is that comes from Costco, which is extremely large, but the beef is truly excellent and I highly recommend it. I cut my chunks in half just to make them more manageable with a spoon. Then you pat them dry with a paper towel and put them on a plate. You could use a clean tea towel to dry your meat if you were feeling environmentally conscious, but let’s face it: ew.
In a bowl, mix together some flour (I used buckwheat just in case a gluten-free person came over for dinner sometime in the future – but then the Pie pointed out that Guinness has gluten in it so I’m an idiot), salt, pepper, and cayenne seasoning.
Spill some of that onto a plate and spread it out. Roll your meat chunks in the flour.
Brown the meat, working in small batches, in that skillet you already used on medium heat. Add some more olive oil if it starts to dry out and smoke. Chuck the browned beef into the pot with the vegetables. This is probably the most tedious step, and takes a while.
Once you have browned all the meat, pour about 3 1/2 cups beef broth into the vegetable/meat pot. I found this concentrated stuff at the grocery store. All you have to do is add boiling water. Sure takes up less space in my cupboard!
Tie a bundle of thyme and rosemary together and chuck that in as well. I find if you tie the bundle string to the handle of the pot it makes getting it out later a lot easier. Bring the contents to a simmer.
In the skillet that you have been using, plop a little butter and more olive oil and let that melt.
Add in the garlic you roasted earlier and mash it with a wooden spoon.
Then pour in 2 cans Guinness stout beer and bring that to a simmer.
Scrape the bottom lots with your wooden spoon.
Pour that whole lot into your bubbling stew and let that simmer with the lid off, stirring occasionally, to reduce for a while (at least an hour). You may find you have to add in a bit of corn starch after a while for thickening if you used a gluten-free flour.
We served ours with some beer bread made out of Mill Street’s Oktoberfest.
You can simplify all this by doing it all in a slow cooker, but I find I prefer the sharper flavours of the roasted vegetables and the constant stirring — you’d still have to brown the meat before slow-cooking it anyway. But boy it is time-consuming.
Worth it, though.