Sunday, September 27, 2009

Fall Cooking: Beef Stew and Homemade Bread

Feeling under the weather today, I was craving a heart-warming (and house-warming) meal of beef stew and fresh, crusty bread. It helped that for most of the day it was pouring rain so I didn't step foot outside - which is good since it's actually 70 degrees out and still a little to warm for stew... but in my stuffy, congested head, it was a perfect day for it.

Stew is great because it's easy to have all the ingredients at any time. I buy wholesale stew meat and freeze it one -to-two pound portions in plastic bags so I always have it on hand, like I do carrots, celery, onions and potatoes.

Tonight I made Beef Porter Stew - a recipe I saw on the Today Show last year - that is rich, hearty and delicious. As usual, I tweaked a couple of things.

First, I ignore the cooking times a little and let it cook until the beef is so tender it can be shredded using a spoon with minimal effort - stew should not be eaten with a fork and knife. Sometimes this requires adding a little extra liquid near the end so that it doesn't get too thick and stick to the bottom. My enamel cast-iron dutch over conducts heat well over an open flame and tonight it took just over 3 hours to cook. I also used sweet potatoes instead of parsnips because that's what I had on hand, but parsnips give a slightly bitter contrast to the saltier stew which is actually quite tasty.

As for my bread... well, I slept most of the day away and didn't really have time to put a lot of effort into making bread but I really wanted a hot, buttered piece of crusty bread. Enter: Multigrain English Muffin Bread. All I can say is YUM about this quick, no-need-for-kneading bread that has all the nooks and crannies that are perfect for melted butter. I will be making this in double batches from now on.

Pleased to enjoy!

Beef and Porter Stew
By Chef Michael Lomonaco, Porter House New York

Serves 6 to 8


1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 1/2 pounds beef chuck stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 large onion, diced
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 bottles, 24 ounces, American Porter –rich dark ale, or any beer
2 cups low-sodium, beef broth
1/4 cup tomato paste
3 carrots, peeled and diced
3 parsnips, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, diced
3 large red bliss potatoes, washed and diced
Sea salt, freshly ground black pepper


1. Put the oil and butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pot and heat it over medium-high heat. Season the beef with salt and pepper. Add the beef to the pot in a single, not-too-tightly-packed layer and brown the beef well on all sides, approximately 8 minutes total. Transfer the beef to a plate and set aside. This may be done in batches to brown all the beef evenly.

2. Add the onion and butter to the casserole and cook until golden and caramelized, approximately 15 minutes. Sprinkle the onions with the flour and stir to combine well.

3. Return the beef to the casserole, add the porter ale, beef broth, tomato pasted diluted in 1 cup warm water, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer 1 1/4 hours.

4. Add the carrots, parsnips, celery and potatoes. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Return to a boil then simmer for 45 minutes before serving with toasted or grilled country bread.

Multigrain English Muffin Bread

Taste of Home Complete Guide to Baking


1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast

1 1/4 cups warm water (110 degrees to 115 degrees F)

1/3 cup whole wheat flour

1/3 cup quick-cooking oats

1/3 cup wheat germ

1 tablespoon sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup cornmeal


In a mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Add whole whet flour, oats, wheat germ, sugar, salt and 1-1/4 cups of all-purpose flour; beat until smooth. Add enough remaining all-purpose flour to form a soft dough. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour. Punch dough down (no not knead). Shape into a loaf. Coat a 9-in. x 5-in. x 3-in. loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray and sprinkle with half of the cornmeal. Place loaf in pan; sprinkle with remaining cornmeal. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. Bake at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.

1 comment: