This does not follow my theme for the year but I just had to share/brag/boast/whatever!
In a Dutch Oven sauté a handful of bacon ends and pieces with a teaspoon of jarred minced garlic. Add 2 small onions chopped in large chunks and continue cooking until onions are semi-tender. Set aside in a bowl. Dredge 1-2 pounds of beef stew meat chunks (from a Top Butt) in ½ cup flour with some salt and pepper. Add a bit more oil to the pot and brown the beef, turning once. Set this aside in the bowl with the bacon/onion mixture. Add one cup of red wine to the pot and deglaze the pan scraping the brown bits on the bottom. Add the beef, bacon, and onion mixture back into the pot along with 2 small potatoes chopped in large chunks and 2 small carrots which have been peeled and cut into one-inch chunks. Cover this with 2 cups of beef broth and 1-2 teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce. Add more broth if necessary to just cover the goodies in the pot but not to drown them. Stir and bring to boil. Reduce heat and let simmer. This was allowed to simmer for the two risings of the home-made bread dough. Meanwhile in separate skillet place 2 tablespoons of butter and sauté 4 large baby bella mushrooms which have been sliced. Cook just until mushrooms are slightly softened and browned. Add a splash of Worcestershire sauce and set aside. When ready to put the bread in the oven, or after two hours, stir the mushrooms into the pot along with the reserved flour from the dredging of the beef. Continue to simmer the pot for the duration of the bread baking or 30-35 minutes.
We ate most of this before taking a picture. Here is what the leftover in the pot looks like. But no, the pic is not appetizing so I am not posting it, and this stew was fantastic. I do not generally rave about my own cooking but this was aromatic, flavorful, and rich-tasting. I served this with a homemade loaf of bread which is essential to clean the bowl to get every last drop!
Hubby and I were watching some obscure British tv show from the 70s or 80s and one of the characters made reference to marinating beef in Guinness overnight for a steak and kidney pie. We looked at each other, put the TV show on pause, and started brainstorming a Guinness Stew. For some reason Hubby added that it needed puff pastry; so we were really talking about a beef pot pie. He was thinking of Beef Wellington. He traipsed off to the grocery store the next day to get potatoes as that was the only thing we did not have on hand. Here’s the result:
First, I have beef stew meat in the house thanks to my neighbor who overbought on her meat delivery system. I did send the Hubby out to look for frozen puff pastry when he bought potatoes but since we go to the discount grocery stores there was none to be found. Hubby is concerned, as am I, that it could be considered a waste of good beer to put too much Guinness in the stew. And I needed to decide whether or not to marinade the stew meat.
2 pounds stew meat, already cut into chunks; I chose not to marinade this.
approximately 1/2 cup flour for divided use
salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon Fine Herbs
2 large red potatoes, scrubbed with skin on
1 large onion
3-4 medium carrots; I had one large one and two medium
1 garlic clove
about two cups beef broth
1 can (14.5 ounces) Guinness stout, divided use
oil for the pan; we use olive oil
one sheet Puff Pastry; for some reason I decided to make the real thing by hand!
Chop the vegetables and mince the garlic in large bite size pieces. The exact amount of vegetables is not important in stews and soups. More can be added for large families. Dredge the stew meat in about 1/4 cup flour seasoned with salt and pepper. Put oil in a Dutch oven or large skillet and brown the meat. Stir this around a bit to get all or most sides. Add the vegetables and 1/2 the can of Guinness. Pour other half of beer into glass and serve to Hubby. Add the beef broth to the pot along with the Fine Herbs unless you thought in advance to mix the herbs with the flour that dredged the beef. At this time rinse the beer can and add that water to the pot. Why not? Add more broth or water to almost cover the stew mixture. Stir this and bring to a boil. Cover and let simmer for 45 minutes or so. Test the carrot for doneness. Mix the rest of the flour with a bit of cold tap water and stir into the stew. This will thicken the stew and you can use more flour for a thicker broth.
Prior to all this I made Puff Pastry using Jacques Pepin’s recipe for the real thing. This is not a rough puff. This is three cups (one pound flour) and one pound butter. The only thing else is ice water and a little salt. This is made with four turns of the dough which I may have miscounted and done five. This will give your upper arms a work out rolling this stuff out so many times. But look at the layers!
When the stew was complete and the puff pastry had rested in the refrigerator for an hour, I turned the stew out into a casserole dish. Actually Hubby did this as I sometimes have difficulty picking up heavy objects on occasion. Getting older is not just getting wiser. It also means recognizing that one does not always have the capability of one’s youth, and it is nice to have a partner.
I rolled one-third of the pastry into a rectangle. This was a bit of work so the resulting rectangle was not quite as big as I had hoped. I placed this on the stew and popped it into the oven that was heating to 425 degrees F. Thirty minutes gave the pastry a nice color and crusty outside. The part on top of the stew was not crisp and one would not expect it to be if you think about it. In hindsight, Hubby suggested baking the pastry on a sheet pan and then placing it on the stew. That would insure crispy all the way through.
It was absolutely delicious. The taste of the stout came through for a subtle difference for a beef stew.
I now have two pound of puff pastry in the freezer. It needs to be used within a few months. What to make next?