Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A Sumptuous Stew

Beef + Beer + Bacon + Onions = Delicious

The Cooking School at Jungle Jim's International Market has the perfect formula for a warm, hearty meal for the folks around your table! The polar vortex has sent us all inside to warm up and a beef stew supper is just the answer to sub-zero temperatures! Once each ingredient is ready, you can prepare the stew for the oven and then curl up under a blanket. The aromatic equation of beef, beer, bacon and onions will draw your family to the table like the Pied Piper! If a steamy bowl of stew sounds inviting, please join us at the Cooking School for a class dedicated to Sumptuous Stews.

This is an all-star cast of ingredients! The bacon has been fried to a crispy crunch and the onions are caramelized and fragrant. We took a trip down to the Tasting Bar for some beer to add to our stew. A note about using beer in stew:  use a flavorful beer that you enjoy. After spending a couple hours in the oven, the flavors of the beer you use will be concentrated. You'll want to select a beer that is balanced in sweetness and bitterness.

When browning chunks of meat for stew, don't crowd the pan with chunks. Take the extra time to brown meat in batches for a beautifully seared crust. As you can see above, there needs to be plenty of room to brown the meat. A crowded pan will result in steaming rather than browning.

The onion slices and brown sugar are added to the bacon fat in the Dutch oven. 

Caramelize the onions until they are a golden brown. You'll get maximum flavor with this slow process.

The stew is ready to ladle into bowls. Roasted potatoes, string beans and a loaf of crusty bread will make a memorable meal on a cold winter night!

Beef and Beer Stew with Bacon and Onions

4 slices bacon
4 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
2 large cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Salt and pepper
3 pounds chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 2-inch chunks
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups full-flavored beer

Heat a 4 to 5-quart Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add bacon and cook, turning occasionally, until crisp. Remove bacon from pan and drain on paper towels. Chop bacon coarsely and set aside.

Add onions and brown sugar to the bacon fat in the pan and sauté until onions reduce and brown, about 25 minutes. Stir in the garlic and transfer the mixture to a bowl; set aside.

Combine flour with a generous amount of salt and pepper. Toss flour mixture with cubed meat, shaking off excess.

Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to pan and heat over medium heat. Add meat in batches (do not crowd pan) and sear, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer browned meat to a plate.

Pour beer into pan, stirring with a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits from bottom of the pan. Return bacon, onions and meat to the pan and stir to combine. Cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 2 hours, until meat is very tender. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve warm with crusty bread.

Serves 4

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