Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Beef Stew with Ale

On Valentines day I did not know what to make for dinner.  I did not feel like going out because I hate Valentine's Day crowd, the overpriced menu, and the long wait.  I thought of something easy and quick like steak, but I just made steak the day before so it was out of the list of choices.  Well actually there was no list of choices, come lunch time and still I had no clue what to serve my family.  I needed to come up with something special.... something to make my family feel the love.  I was feeling lazy and unadventurous that day but in the midst of my usual blog hopping I was able to get some inspiration which led to a spur of the moment decision to make stew.  That day I drove like a maniac, went to the market to buy the ingredients and hoped I would have enough time to do a 3-hour beef stew.  I was inspired by Elise's stew over at Simply Recipes and also the Pioneer Woman's stew.  I sort of cross referenced both recipes, I do that a lot.

But before proceeding,

first let me show the Valentines card my husband gave our 2 year old daughter.  Man, that's sweet!

Our daughter flashed the card to me with excitement when they got home.  At first I thought it was mine so I snatched it from her (I know, shame on me!).  Then my husband handed me mine.  Sorry I am not posting that, it's for my eyes only.

Now this.....
from me, for the loves of my life - a hearty beef stew cooked with lots of love!

The original recipe called for beef short ribs but I decided to use Trader Joe's tri-tip meat instead. I figured it would get tender quicker.  I used every short cut I know to cut down the cooking time. I am trying to serve dinner by seven thirty, you know.  So I browned the beef in big chunks then cut them afterwards.  I also added the vegetables right away so they get tender along with the beef, which shortened the time by about 30 minutes.  I actually like it when the potatoes gets mushy, and thickens the stew a little bit.

Beef Stew with Ale


1/2 cup flour
2 Tbsp paprika
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne
Freshly ground black pepper
3 pounds beef (tri-tip, stew meat, or beef short ribs)
4 strips thick-cut bacon, cut in 1 inch strips
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 bottle (12 oz.) brown ale
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes
2 pounds red potatoes, unpeeled
1/2 pound baby carrots
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 cup water
1/2 Beef Bouillon cube
Minced Parsley (optional)


Preheat oven to 350°. Combine flour, paprika, smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1 teaspoon of black pepper in a large bowl. Dredge the beef in the flour mixture.

In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, cook bacon until fat renders. Transfer bacon to a plate and set aside.

Pour off all but 2 Tbsp of the bacon fat from pot then add beef. Notice the beef were in huge chunks. I was trying to save time in the browning process.

Brown beef on all sides.

Transfer browned beef to the bacon plate and reserve. Cool beef for a little while then cut them into smaller pieces.

Add the onion and 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the pot and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add the ale and, using a wooden spoon, scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. It is called deglazing, the process of dissolving all the flavorful food particles stuck at the bottom of the pan.

Add tomatoes and their juices, tomato paste, brown sugar, reserved bacon, beef, carrots, potatoes, bouillon cubes and water. Increase heat to high and bring mixture to a boil. Cover and put in the preheated oven, and cook two hours. Make sure to check how it taste like and adjust seasoning as desired.  A lesson from Top Chef - always taste your dish!

This is how it looks like after 2 hours.  Next, do your best to spoon off any excess fat on top.

I also bought these pre-baked mini baguettes from Trader Joes which I thought would be perfect to serve with the stew. They only need about 5 minutes to crisp in the oven.

Serve the stew in bowls along with crusty mini French baguettes.

This is what they call comfort food.

And yes, dinner was served before seven thirty.

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