Grandma’s beef stew
Early September is not the time of the year when I would normally be dreaming of comfort food and hot, hearty dishes to warm up my dinner table, but living in Holland has changed a few things… The heating is already on and my summer clothes have already been packed. Accordingly, I decided to make a super tasty, traditional beef stew. I chose lean veal, because I’ve a got a few picky eaters at home, but if it had been my choice I would have used beef shank, as my grandma used to. It is less dry, and when you cook it slowly and the collagen melts, the texture is unbeatable. Choose whatever cut works for you, just make sure to keep the temperature low and give it enough time and it will be delicious… or you can also “cheat” and use the pressure cooker, as I did this time. Works pretty well and saves a lot of time.
Fry some diced potatoes to go with it and enjoy!
Ingredients (serves 4)
2 pounds beef shank (or chuck, or round), cubed
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
2 medium onions
2 bay leaves
2-3 thyme sprigs
2/3 cup red wine
½ cup tomato sauce (better if homemade, you can follow our recipe)
1 ½ cup (if using pressure cooker; 4 or 5 if regular pot) of beef stock, chicken stock or water
½ cup flour
1 tsp sugar (optional)
1 tsp Worcestershire (Lea & Perrins) sauce
olive oil, salt, pepper
1 ½ pounds diced potatoes (optional)
STEP 1.- After removing any excess fat and tissue, pat the beef dry with a paper towel, dice it and coat with flour. Shake off excess flour.
STEP 2.- Heat up oil in the pot of your choice and add the beef when ready. Fry until evenly brown. You might want to do this in two or three different batches, to keep the temperature high enough for the beef to brown. If it releases a lot of water, it will keep the temperature too low and the browning reaction won’t take place, so it will be boiled instead of fried. Fry one batch, scrap the bottom of the pot, set the browed beef aside and repeat the process with the next batch.
STEP 3.- Meanwhile slice the onions and the peeled carrots and cut the peppers into 1.5×1.5 inch squares. Once all the beef is browned, season and set aside. In the same oil, fry the onion for a few minutes over medium heat until browned.
STEP 4.- Add the rest of the vegetables, fry for a couple of minutes and return the beef to the pot. Add the wine and deglaze (scrape the bottom of the pot to incorporate all those flavors to your stew). Let boil for 5 minutes.
STEP 5.- Add the remaining ingredients, taste and season with salt and pepper (and sugar if needed). If using the pressure cooker, it will take 15-20 minutes to cook, depending on the type of meat. Start with 15, open and check if it needs 5 more minutes. If using a regular pot, like a cast iron one, cover and leave it over low heat for 1.5-2 hours, checking every 20 minutes. Add more liquid if necessary.
STEP 6.- Peel and dice some potatoes and fry them right before serving them with the stew.
– Remember to keep the heat medium-low if using the pressure cooker while the vapor builds or the flour that tends to go to the bottom will stick to it and get burned.