California is getting hit by a storm. We live far enough, North, that we aren't being hit with any serious flooding. I'm thankful that our Salinas Valley is being watered by Mother Nature. It's also a perfect way to spend my vacation with a fire crackling and to make stews.
I made an Austrian Goulash, my annual Oktoberfest party. This afternoon, I decided to use some extra stew-cut beef chuck eye roast to make my fool-proof beef stew. I know, I know-- beef stew recipes are everywhere. Seriously, this is one of the best recipes I've ever eaten. It also comes together pretty fast. I've been known to make this in a pressure cooker, in less than 20 minutes. Today, though, I'm on vacation so I used my Dutch Oven and let it simmer on low for about 2 hours.
Before I show you the recipe, I'd like to give a refresher course on what it means to "sear" meat. When I had the privilege of meeting Tyler Florence (did I mention a few times that he even read my blog??!), not once but twice! Tyler made two dishes (I have yet to blog about) that involved searing and braising. Tyler says "color = flavor".
Tyler Florence getting ready to show a seared and braised rabbit dish.
Just a few of my many photos I took of Tyler Florence at the Harvest Festival, in my hometown
of Carmel Valley, CA
Sorry. Where was I? (Daydreaming of meeting Mr. Ultimate, himself).
I have a dear friend who's a great cook and baker. However, she says she can't get the crust sear like I do in my recipes. Why? Do you have that challenge yourself?
- Make sure that your meat is really dry. Moisture creates steam and you cannot get a golden crust.
- If possible, bring the meat to room temperature for at least 30-60 minutes (not overnight!)
- Use a pan that has an even distribution of heat, if possible. You want the pan screaming hot!
- Vegetable oil has a higher smoke point, but I use olive oil as much as I can.
- You want to see the oil start to shimmer, and just a wisp of smoke starting to come up. See the sizzle of the meat?
- Dredging the meat in seasoned flour (salt & pepper) will help with the crust-- and will help to thicken the stew.
See? 3 minutes per side and that's what you want!
The most important reason that I sear my meat, before braising is the make lots of brown crusting on the bottom of the pan. Color = flavor means that when you add liquid, you create a flavorful sauce. So, if you haven't tried or perfected searing-- stick with me. I finally got it down to a science. I'll post a more lengthy tutorial when I post my recipe for Austrian Goulash.
So, here we go!
Cook the veggies. I used baby carrots, chunky celery and two onions. If I had mushrooms, I would have added them. This took less than five minutes and it's time to add the garlic...careful not to burn it!
TIP: I sometimes buy picnic size wine just for cooking. That way I don't have to open an entire bottle of wine for just 1/2 cup. I never, EVER buy cooking wine. It's nasty-- salty and I'd never drink it. Rule of thumb, cook with what you would drink. Shove the veggies to the side and pour 1/2 cup of red wine, with the heat on high. Stir! This will loosen up all those brown bits (fond). Now, add a palm full of thyme (1 tablespoon?). I used dry thyme, because my plant is looking sparse right now. Add Tablespoons of tomatoes paste and stir it all up.
NOTE: You can cook this in a pressure cooker for about 25 minutes or even in a slower cooker.
This smells heavenly!
I love chunky potatoes. Scratch that. I love potatoes any way you care to make them.
The plates were wiped clean-- all two helpings for each of us! We have no shame.
Excuse me, while I grab my husband and stoke up the fire! What a stay-cation at Chez Debby's Bed & Breakfast!
TO ADAPT THIS TO A PRESSURE COOKER (I use an electric pressure cooker that has a browning cycle).
Brown the meat and vegetables, and deglae in the pressure cooker, and follow the rest of the recipe just as it is. Pressure cook on high for 20 minutes. Release the pressure, and then stir in the peas and serve.
Happily cooking up a storm,