Today I'm lucky enough to have Jackie Monck from Accidentally Mommy here to talk stew! (This is the best food post I've ever seen, btw.)
The holiday season brings out the best in all of us. Kindness, special attention paid to creating memories and traditions. It brings out the primal, ingrained urges to stay close to one another, to cook and cuddle and generally wait out these dark, short days until the sun and the verdant spring that accompanies her return to us.
Do you know what else does this for us? Wine. And specific to me, wine also brings out the chef in me. So, as a result, the people around me have been showered in baked goods and soups and stews. Because it’s fucking cold, ya’ll. What better way to warm up than get toasted, and then cook and bake?
So, I bring you the latest in my culinary blunders that turned out surprisingly well: Beef stew with red wine demi-glace. (Like that name? Sounds classy, right? Totally changed it. My recipe card reads “Drunk New Year’s stew.”)
I would give you measurements, but to be straight with you: I…don’t remember. So I’ll give you an ingredient list instead and tell you what my grandmother told me. Don’t be a dumbass, always under-season and go from there. Use what looks right, and if you need more, add it in small amounts.
v Stew Beef. I like fattier cuts, because this is a winter stew and it’s full of other rich ingredients. Fat is flavor, damn it. Besides, you’ll need those drippings to make your red wine demi-glace.
v Garlic (powder AND minced.)
v Potatoes (I like baby reds with the skin on.)
v More garlic
v Salt and Pepper to taste
v Butter (I think I used a pound and a half, total, but I also made a REALLY BIG POT.)
v Flour (I think this was a cup and a tablespoon.)
v Red wine (I didn’t want it too dry, because I was drinking it first and foremost. Apothic Red fit the bill nicely.)
v 1 ½ tbsp rendered bacon grease
Okay, so, there is a LITTLE bit of advanced cooking in this. Unless you’re experienced in making a roux, don’t get too drunk. Oh, yeah, the advanced cooking is making a roux.
Start out with your wine!!!
“I LOVE MAH JOB! I GET PEOPLE DRUNK! I MAKE STEW! WHEEEE!!!”
Okay. Poured your wine? Good. Now, you want to take your stew meat out and let it hit room temperature. Because cooking science. No, really. Go google why you want meat you’re only searing to be room temperature. Answer for the lazy: Because it will sear much faster on lower heat, and give you a more even sear. Season it well with salt and pepper and a little garlic powder. I like sea salt and fresh three pepper medly, but meh. Don’t work too hard. Remember, by now you should be a little tipsy.
Now is the fun part. Once your meat has seared, you’re going to transfer it to your pot to rest. Resting meat gives it a chance to suck back in some of those juices and remain tender. (Like my fancy science talk? It sucks that shit up like a straw.)
After you’ve gotten it all transferred, you’re going to turn the heat up high and whisk the fuck out of those drippings for about three minutes. It’s going to be hot and steamy, like Ninette Swann’s latest novel. (See what I did there?) Hang with it.
Once that lovely, beefy, seasoned goo has started to reduce and get darker, add your wine to deglaze the pan. I used a cup or so. Alter appropriately for the amount of drippings you have.
Turn the heat back up, and whisk some more. This time, you’re going to whisk it until it simmers down and becomes smooth and shiny. It won’t be completely smooth, because you haven’t strained the tiny pieces of meat out of it. But it won’t be goopy, either.
Also, more wine for you. Fill that glass back up!!!
So, now that you’ve got your demi-glace, you’re going to pour that over your meat, and then set it aside completely. It will rest in the demi-glace and absorb all of that rich flavor while you sautee and chop and prep.
Now you chop and mince your veggies. Preferably not while your sister is in the kitchen making peach cobbler; because then you’re tipsy, she’s clumsy, and you end up with cinnamon-drenched celery, like so:
Scrap that celery. Start over. Chop the fuck out of those veggies.
Now you want to take a hunk of butter, and toss it in a non-stick pan. “But…if it’s non-stick, why do you need butter?” Because like I’ve said before, fat is flavor. It will absorb all those amazing, aromatic juices and emulsify into the stew later to explode in your mouth like a goddamn culinary orgasm.
So, you’ve melted the butter. Now you’re going to sweat your minced garlic. That is, you’re going to stir it around in the simmering butter until the smell is strong and sweet., and it changes color a bit.
The you add your veggies, and saute them, sweating the onions the same way you did the garlic. While garlic becomes a paler yellow when sweat, onions begin to turn translucent.
Once you’ve hit “almost clear” on the onion front (lol,) go ahead and pull that off the heat. Cut up your taters. Layer the taters on top of the meat, and the veggies on top of the taters, like so:
Then you need to cook that bitch. Add a cup and a half to two cups of water, cover, and place over low low heat. Stir at the half hour in mark, and then turn heat to medium low. Keep covered and cook for four to six hours, or until meat and potatoes are tender. Stir regularly to combine and make sure nothing burns.
Once you’re about a half hour away from being done, you want to start your roux.
To do that, you need to melt two cups of butter (mind you, this is for a stew that included four pounds of potatoes, and two and a half pounds of meat. Don’t forget to alter to suit the size of your pot.) over medium heat, whisking gently. Once your butter is melted, incorporate your bacon fat. Whisk together until fat is melted to fully incorporate with your butter.
Now you’re going to slowly but steadily whisk in your flour. For any roux, you want equal parts fat to flour. So, in this case, it was two cups, plus 1 ½ tbsp. of flour.
Whisk gently over medium heat until the roux becomes bubbly, smooth, and starts to toast. I like mine to be a honey color, like below. It may start to smell a little nutty, even.
Okay. So you’ve got your roux that you’ve whisked the fuck out of forever. You’ve got your stew that smells amazing and has been cooking forever. WAT DO????
Simple. Whisk your roux gently into your stew. Stir with a wooden spoon a handful of times to make sure you’ve got it completely incorporated, and then you want to cover and let it cook for a little while longer. In the end, you should have a thick, dark, bubbly product that you want to take into the closet with a spoon and eat, shamefully, all by yourself.
Unfortunately, I have no pictures of the sated, slightly glazed look the faces of my co-workers had after eating this. It was delightful, and the stew was gone in literally under five minutes.
I hope you enjoy making this as much as I did, and the looks on the faces of the people you make it for bring you the same joy that they brought me.
Stay warm, stay drunk, keep cooking.
And there you have it, hands down the best recipe post I've ever seen.