Beef “stew”

I was short with some of the details in my post on stocks.  I thought I’d elaborate here on a new (for me) approach to stews.

My current issue with stews and braises is that the meat is too cooked.  Every now and then, let’s say every few years, I’ll order a braised short rib.  For whatever reason my I like right now for the beef to be very “present” with its own flavor and something like its original texture, i.e. not overcooked but moistened with collagen.  Maybe this is a Pacific Islander thing, as I have a special place in my heart for ribs cut cross-wise and served chewy, as in many Asian restaurants.

My approach now is to cook the meat and the sauce separately.  Since the meat typically flavors the sauce, I use stock to bridge the gap.  I note in the recipe title that what I’ve described isn’t formally a stew.

Beef “stew”

This dish requires two saucepans (or a saucepan and a pot) and a cast iron skillet.  For me, this is a lot.  But one of the saucepans (or the pot) is only used to boil water and cleaning a cast iron skillet is actually easy.  Pouring water into the saucepan that contained the red wine sauce takes care of that cooking vessel.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound beef, such as a sirloin steak or a (small) chuck roast
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 3 cups beef stock
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • Few sprigs parsley
  • Pinch dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 12 pearl onions
  • 1/2 pound frozen peas
  • 1 pound potatoes
  • Garlic, to taste
  • Heavy cream, to taste
  • Butter, to taste

Procedure

  1. Stir together 50 grams of a 1 percent salt solution, bag the meat, and circulate at 59 degrees C.  The meat should cook for at least an hour.
  2. Brown the onions and remove.  Cook a roux.  Add wine and reduce.  Add stock and whisk in the tomato paste.  Add the herbs and pearl onions and reduce.  Add the peas at the last possible moment, i.e. right before step 5, that ensures the peas are warmed through.  Remove the herbs right before adding the peas.
  3. Infuse the butter with the garlic and set aside.  Using the same pot — to avoid extra cleaning — fill with salted water and cook the potatoes.  Mash the potatoes.  Season with the garlic butter and salt.  Add just enough cream (or a lower-fat dairy) to achieve a relatively thick consistency.
  4. When the meat is done, remove to a cutting board and pat dry with paper towels.  Reserve the cooking liquid.  Season the meat with salt and sear hard on both sides.  Though not necessary, I prefer to drop the temperature of thicker cuts of meat in an ice bath so I can sear for a longer period of time, rendering more of the fat and developing a deeper crust.
  5. To serve, spoon a layer or heap of mashed potatoes, then place slices of the seared beef, and then spoon the sauce and vegetables over the meat and potatoes.
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