Monday, April 4, 2016

The Best Beef Stew and Amazing Buttermilk Biscuits

Yeah a vacation day! And what is up with the weather? Snow? Sleet? Our daffodils might not survive this. Today's weather was perfect for Beef Stew. I found the recipe The Best Beef Stew From Scratch on The Kitchen web site. It really was the best beef stew I have made in a while. I made one in the crock pot not too long ago but this was so much better. I think using chicken broth instead of beef broth made the difference.

From The Kitchen The Best Beef Stew recipe -

3-4 pounds beef chuck roast
1-3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
2 medium onions, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons Worcestershire, divided
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup red wine or amber beer, plus extra to finish
3 sprigs fresh thyme or 2 teaspoons dried
1 bay leaf
4 cups chicken stock
3 carrots, diced
1 ½ pounds red bliss potatoes, cubed
1 cup frozen peas
Salt and pepper 

Cube the beef. Trim off any large pieces of fat from the outside of the roast, then cut it into small bite-sized cubes. This is most easily done if you cut the roast into slices, each slice into strips, and then the strips into cubes. Use a sharp knife and don't forget to keep your fingers out of the way and your thumb tucked in as you're slicing through the meat.

Warm the pot and begin searing the meat. Set a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat and film the bottom with oil. When hot enough that a drop of water sizzles off the surface, work in batches to sear the beef. Add a single layer of beef cubes to the pan, being careful not to crowd the cubes too closely, and sprinkle them generously with salt and pepper.

Continue searing all the meat. Let the cubes of beef cook undisturbed for 4-5 minutes, until the undersides develop a dark brown crust and come away easily from the pan. Toss and continue searing on all sides, another 4-5 minutes. Transfer the seared meat to a clean bowl and continue searing the remaining meat in batches. Add another teaspoon or two of oil between batches if the pan looks dry.

Watch for the "fond," a.k.a. sticky dark glaze, to form: A sticky dark glaze will start to form on the bottom of the pan. This is technically called "the fond," and it is a major source of deep, caramelized flavor in your stew. We'll get back to it in a few more steps. However, if at any time you think the crust smells smoky or is starting to burn, dissolve it with a few tablespoons of water and pour over the seared beef.

Cook the vegetables. Once all the meat has been seared and transferred out of the pan, cook the vegetables. Reduce the heat to medium and warm another teaspoon of oil. Add the onions and celery, and cook until the onions are softened and translucent, 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato paste, salt, and one tablespoons of the Worcestershire sauce to coat.

Add the flour. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables. Stir until there is no more visible flour and the veggies look slightly mushy from the flour coating.

Deglaze the pan with the wine. Raise the heat back up to medium-high and pour in the wine. The wine should immediately start bubbling and steaming. Scrape the sticky fond from the bottom of the pan; the wine will help it to dissolve. Continue scraping and stirring until the wine has reduced and thicken slightly.

Return the meat to the pan and add the broth. Return the seared meat to the pan and add the whole thyme sprigs, the bay leaf, and the broth. Stir to combine.

Cover and cook for 1 1/2 hours. Bring the broth to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Stir occasionally. Make sure the stew stays at a very low simmer.

Add the potatoes and carrots. Add the potatoes and carrots to the stew. Cover the pot again and continue cooking for another 45-60 minutes. When done, the meat should be tender enough to flake apart with a fork and the potatoes cooked through. If not, re-cover and cook in additional 15 minute increments until cooked.

Add the peas and remaining seasonings. Stir the frozen peas into the stew. Add the remaining tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce and a splash of red wine. Remove the thyme stems and bay leaf. Taste and add extra salt, pepper, or other seasonings as you see fit. The stew can be served right away, refrigerated for up to a week, or frozen for up to three months.

I have never made Buttermilk Biscuits. I saw the photo of this biscuit in Bon Appetit and I had to try this recipe. Oh. My. God. They were soooo good! Flaky and the flavors were spot on. But they should be perfect because I cut the recipe in half and it used a stick of butter! 6 biscuits, 1 stick of butter. How could they not be good!

From Bon Appetit, BA’s Best Buttermilk Biscuits

Servings: Makes 12
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces, plus more, melted, for brushing
1 cup chilled buttermilk

Preheat oven to 425°. Pulse baking powder, salt, sugar, baking soda, and 3½ cups flour in a food processor to combine. Add chilled butter and pulse until largest pieces of butter are the size of a pea. Transfer to a large bowl and gradually drizzle buttermilk over top, tossing with a fork as you go to incorporate. Knead mixture a few times in bowl until a shaggy dough forms (mixture will look a little dry), then turn out onto a clean surface and pat into a 1"-thick square.

Using a knife or bench scraper, cut dough into 4 pieces. Stack pieces on top of one another, sandwiching any loose dry bits of dough between layers, and press down to flatten. Lift up dough with bench scraper and dust surface with flour. Roll dough into a 1"-thick rectangle and trim a thin border around sides of dough to create clean edges. Cut into a 4x3" grid to make 12 biscuits (don’t reroll scraps). Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing 2" apart; freeze 10 minutes. On the BA site in the comment section there was some discussion about the sizes mentioned here. I cut the recipe in half so it did not pertain to me, but you might want to check it out.)

(I did not do this next step. I felt that the biscuits really didn’t need added butter.) Brush tops of biscuits with melted butter and place in oven. Reduce oven temperature to 400° and bake biscuits until deep golden brown on bottom and golden on top, 20–25 minutes.

Do Ahead: Biscuits (unbaked) can be made 1 month ahead. Freeze, uncovered, on baking sheet until solid, then transfer to a resealable plastic bag. Do not thaw before baking, but add a few minutes to baking time.


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