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Monday, February 22, 2010

Here’s The Beef

Last night was very busy and we didn’t get a chance to go shopping as we had planned.  I went and rummaged in our freezer and found a container of frozen beef stew that I cooked several weeks ago.  The stew made a quick trip in the microwave to defrost while I prepared a potato and steamed some asparagus, then I heated the stew and we had a wonderful dinner.

I made Stick-to-Your-Ribs Beef, Onion and Mushroom Stew from the Deen Family Cookbook.  The recipe is on page 87 and this dish is wonderful, of course, any recipe that includes a lot of butter and a bottle of dark beer has to be good!

When planning for this recipe, I saw that we had all the ingredients at our house except the three pounds of stew meat and ten ounces of mushrooms.  I went to our local store with an in-house butcher department and picked up the fresh stew meat.  A visit to nearby Albertsons yielded some nice large mushrooms.

The first step was to setup our slow cooker crock-pot so I could add the different ingredients as they finished on the stove.  The stew meat is browned in a large frying pan with two tablespoons of butter (of course it’s butter, it’s Paula Deen).  This cooked for about 7 minutes on high heat.  When it was finished, I placed the meat in the crock-pot and added to the mixture salt, pepper and three tablespoons of flour.  I stirred all the ingredients together until they are well mixed.  (Truthfully, it doesn’t look very good at this stage.)

In the same frying pan I put the next two tablespoons of butter, then the washed, trimmed and quartered mushrooms.  I used the largest white button mushrooms I could find, so they would have presence in the final dish.  These cook for about four minutes, turning once half way through the cooking.  The cooked mushrooms are added to the crock-pot and stirred into the beef mixture.

The recipe calls for large Spanish onions, our store offers: red, white, and yellow onions, so I used two large white onions.  I cut the onions in half, then used my onion slicing skills that I learned when making French Onion Soup.  Another two tablespoons of butter go into the frying pan and then the sliced onions are added to cook for about three minutes until soft.

The kitchen really smells good now.

The onions are added to the crock-pot and stirred in with the meat and mushrooms.  Now comes the fun part, the recipe calls for adding ten ounces of dark beer to the frying pan.  I used a sixteen ounce Moose Drool (yes, that’s really the name of the beer), so I couldn’t waste the remainder even if it is only ten in the morning.  I simmered the beer while using my spatula to loosen all the meat, mushroom, and onions bits from the side and bottom of the pan so these bits simmer with the beer for a few minutes
Now the beer mixture goes into the crock-pot.  The remaining ingredients: garlic, brown sugar, mustard, lemon juice, thyme, bay leaves and two whole cloves are stirred into the mixture in the crock-pot.

I place the lid on the crock-pot and set it to cook on low for eight hours.

Dinner that night was fantastic!  The gravy was thick and very rich and the beef cooked to a very soft texture.  Retaining their form, the mushrooms really add to the look and consistency of the dish.  My wife found this meal almost too rich to eat as a stand-alone item and commented that next time we should try serving this recipe with cooked noodles or even adding some sour cream to make a stroganoff.

For dinner last night, I cut the richness by having a little cooked potato with my stew.  I compare this recipe to a delightful dinner I had of wild boor in the small town of Chenonceaux France.

I strongly recommend this recipe, it is fast and easy to make, just allow the eight hours for cooking and don’t forget the beer!

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