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“Beef Stew” • April 1, 2006

Beef Stew?? Really?? At Chez Meredith??


OK, so what am I doing writing about something as pedestrian as “Beef Stew” at a fancy joint like Chez Meredith??? The answer is that stew can be divinely wonderful or it can be so crummy that even Fauntleroy won’t eat it!  (Fauntleroy is my pet dragon and prefers door to door salespeople — but not too many of them are coming round anymore.)

Another reason for learning to do stew well is that it is prime GUY food.  Remember that “the way to a man’s heart is by shoveling several metric tons of comfort food into his stomach!” So if you keep guys, tyrannosaurs, great white sharks, or other large carnivores around for pets, this will help keep their bellies full and a smile on their little faces.  It’s a favorite of Roger’s!!  And it’ll probably save you money — you can’t image how expensive a 100 pound bag of Guy Chow is at the pet store — and that’s only one serving!!!

If you drag out the cookbook, (particularly a “New Bride’s Cookbook,” obviously written by sadistic divorce lawyers,) you will find a number of delightful recipes that will quite satisfactorily produce nothing but tears and dragon food!!  I’m looking at one of them while I write this and have got both a snarl and sneer on my face!!!  (Makes for an interesting expression!!)

The first ingredient line cheerfully says, “1 pound beef stew meat!” Well — that’s just ducky!!  And if you start your stew with that, your dragon is gonna be cleaning up the inedible mess!  (If you can coax him to eat it!!)

Go to the meat department at your local grocery store.  Take a good long look at the “stew meat.” Notice any fat? Notice any gristle? Notice any resemblance to “mystery meat?” Let’s face it — stew meat, chili meat, and hamburger are what’s let over after the butchers have carved out the “good stuff” as steaks, chops, and roasts!  SO — thumb your nose at the stew meat and cruise down to the roasts and steaks.  If you’re gonna eat, eat something decent!  NO CRUMMY FOOD!!!!

After checking things out, I usually end up with a roast — in this case, I got a round roast — which is just round steaks before it’s been sliced up into steaks.  Lots of good red meat and not much crummy stuff that has to be cut away,

If you’re in a “real” butcher department, you can try batting you eyes at the folks behind the counter, (works best if you’re a girl and they are guys,) and see if they will trim off the worst offending fat, etc, from your selected roast.

When you get home, recruit your selected male labor and finish, (or start as the case might be,) the trimming job.  You want to get rid of ALL the fat and ALL the gristle so that you are left with nothing but beautiful red meat!  If you do it right, your stew will not have one speck of “grease” floating atop it!!  YUCH!!!!  One of the steps in the charming cookbook is to “skim off the fat!” Forget that — don’t COOK ANY fat!!

Watch you male carefully and maintain strict supervision until everything objectionable has been fed to the garbage disposal.  Don’t let you male escape yet — give him a meat tenderizer to put some of those testosterone fired muscles to use beating the daylights out of dinner!

OK — so far so good!  We’ve eliminated one problem with stew, but there is still others that need a stake through their hearts!  And don’t let your male wander off as there is another task for him.  (I find a leash very helpful at times like this — particularly during prime TV football periods.)

The second problem with stew illustrated by the second line in the cookbook from Hell.  To wit, 2 1/2 cups cubed and peeled potatoes.  First, direct you male into peeling the potatoes and carving them into cubes.  So far, everything is OK once he’s taken care of the labor requirement.

The problem is that meat and potatoes cook at TOTALLY different rates!!!  The cookbook will glibly tell you to cook the stew for “X hours” then put the potatoes in for “Y hours” or similar nonsense.  This will guarantee one of two results.  The meat will be nice and tender and the potatoes will be cold white rocks, or the potatoes will be done and the meat will be pâté!!!

The solution is obvious — DON’T COOK THEM TOGETHER!!!

Start your stew with the meat and sauce.  Monitor it for tenderness.  And then boil your potatoes in another pan just like you were making mashed potatoes.  This only takes a few minutes.  Dump the now perfectly cooked potatoes into the stew, give them a few minutes to soak in the sauce, and voila, your meat and potatoes are both perfectly cooked!!!

So what about carrots and other vegetables??? Read the part about the potatoes again!!  Cook them on the side also!!  Carrots are as much of a problem as potatoes!

Now that we understand the basic principles, let’s move to the real recipe.  You’ll need to adjust the quantifies as needed.  When I make it, I make a lot and stash what’s left in the fridge.  You can nuke up portions for days this way.  And it’ll nuke just yummy!  Scoop out a bowl full, cover with a paper towel or paper plate to prevent spatters and nuke on high for a minute, stir, and then finish nuking until it’s warmed up.  (You can also score points by letting your male take home the leftovers for his own nuking!)

Ingredients:

2 1/2 to 3 pounds of perfectly trimmed meat (male labor is best for this)

1/4 cup all purpose flour

1/4 cup cooking oil

2 beef bouillon cube

3 cloves of minced garlic (males are great mincers)

1 can of brown gravy (this is a “Meredith Cheat” but it works like a champ!  I use Campbell’s gravy.)

1 can V-8 juice

1 teaspoon of crushed dried basil

1 teaspoon of crushed dried thyme

1 teaspoon of crushed dried rosemary

1 cup chopped sweet onions (I like 1015’s the best and of course males are excellent choppers)

4 large russet baking potatoes (because they taste better — I use them for mashed potatoes, too — and don’t forget the male labor)

2 cups sliced carrots (this might be optional if you have a “meat and potato” male like Roger)

1 cup sliced celery

You can add in whatever veggies that suit you.  Some people add corn or beans, etc.  The taste is fine to me, but the “presentation” can get a little unsavory if you add in too many things.  (You don’t want it to look like “used food!”)

Also add in salt and pepper to taste.  For most guys, you probably can’t add too much of either.

Preparation:

Dump the meat in a large plastic bag with the flour and shake it vigorously to completely coat the meat.  This is best done by you with your male labor source fondly watching.  (It’s even more effective if you ditch the bra first!!)

Put the oil in a skillet and heat it up.  Once it’s hot, add the meat and brown it.  Save any left over flour.  Once the meat is browned, use tongs to transfer it to your stew cooking pot.  Ditch any left over oil.

Dump the remaining flour in the stew pot, add the beef bouillon, minced garlic, brown gravy, V-8 juice, basil, thyme, rosemary, and onions.  You may need to add a little water to make sure that the meat is covered.  Bring everything to a rolling boil, then reduce heat until everything is just simmering away.  Make sure that the bottom of the pot isn’t so hot that it burns things.  Stir periodically to make sure it doesn’t burn and let it simmer away for an hour or two until the meat is nice and tender.  How do you tell when it’s tender? Spear a chunk and eat!  How else??

Now cook your potatoes, carrots, celery, and whatever in separate sauce pans, then add them to the stew pot.  Give them 15 minutes or so to let all the flavors mix together — and finally serve!!

On a cold crummy wet winter day, some stick to the ribs stew is hard to beat!  And your male will sing your praises because this is super deluxe guy food!!!  Trust me on this, he may make nice-nice noises about your tofu eggplant soufflé casserole, but he will REALLY love this!!  (And he’ll love wicked little you, too!!!)

Love,

Meredith


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Last Updated: April 2006


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