Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Tasting Report 2: The Stew Reheated

This is the last post about the stew, I promise. Maybe it was just because it was extra cold today, or perhaps it was because I was extra hungry when we finally arrived home after a long day, but that stew reheated two days after it was initially slow cooked was delicious. The flavors melded and deepened in the Tupperware terrarium, and I knew enough this time to add a healthy (well, maybe unhealthy) amount of salt upfront. After running from the condo to the car to meeting to meeting to the car and back to the condo, this meal stuck to my ribs just as I wanted it to.

Okay, that's it, I'm done. I just thought I owed it to anyone who's reading this to tell you try this recipe out after all. I promise not to be so lazy and to try out either a new recipe or new restaurant tomorrow!

Tasting Report: The Stew

To report back on this, I'd have to say I was ultimately disappointed in the results. After 8 hours of enjoyable smells filling both floors of our condo as we patiently waited until the evening to dig in, we filled our bowls and found the stew rather tasteless and desperately needing a more than generous amount of salt. The strong flavor of the Guinness that I was hoping would have permeated the meat and vegetables seemed to have simply simmered away. The sprigs of thyme added a little depth, but only a little.

Don't get me wrong--it wasn't terrible by any means, but it just wasn't all that different from any other beef stew. The beef was exceedingly tender and the vegetables had soaked up the true beef flavor after cooking together for such a long period. At the end of the day, I almost wonder if the concoction cooked too long?

If you've had a similar experience or know the secret for a more flavor infusion of Guinness into meat, please write and let me know.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Guinness Beef Stew

It just feels like a stew kind of a day. A snow flurry filled, bitingly cold Sunday when I'm having trouble getting out of my pajamas and the thought of putting something other than slippers on my feet inspired me to try a new stew recipe. This one comes from my "gourmet" slow cooker recipe book by Lynn Alley, and is for a Guinness (yes, the stout) beef stew. It took a little more prep time than the average "throw it all it and let it sit for 6 hours" typical slow cooker recipe, but I think it'll be worth it. Of course, I'll have to wait 8 hours to report back on how it actually tastes!

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 pounds lean beef stew meat, cut into 1-2" cubes
2 Tb vegetable oil
3 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into large cubes
3-4 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
2 yellow onions, cut into chunks
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 cups Guinness stout (equal to bottle of the standard sized bottle available at most supermarkets)
1 tsp salt

1. Place flour in a Ziploc bag. Add the beef to the bag (don't do it all at one), shake it around to coat, and put on a plate
2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the meat (you'll likely need to do it in 2 batches) turning occasionally until nicely browned on all sides, about 8 minutes total.
3. Place browned meat on plate lined with paper towels to drain off excess oil.
4. Pour about 1/2 cup of the second bottle of Guinness into the skillet that's still on the heat to deglaze the pan (why risk losing those yummy, crispy beef pieces?)
5. Place all vegetables in slow cooker. Top with beef and whole sprigs of thyme. Top with beer and that delicious deglazed sauce you just made.
6. Cook for 8 hours on low heat, until the meat is very tender. Season with salt to taste and chopped fresh parsley if you like.

Servies 4 to 6.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

New Year's Resolutions

It's that time of year, and true to form Peter and I have resolved to eat healthier and cook meals for ourselves more frequently. To get inspired I did some searching for good recipes and ended up purchasing Bob Greene's newest diet/cookbook called "The Best Life Diet," mostly because the recipes sounded good and not too terribly restrictive. Last Sunday night I made the Roasted Chicken with Citrus. The recipe called for a whole chicken to roast, which was sort of fun but more work than the measly amount of meat it really yielded. But the crumb topping and citrus flavor were delicious. So I'm going to post a variation of the recipe here and ask if one of my readers will try this out using just chicken breasts instead of the whole chicken. Be sure to let me know what you think and how it turns out!

Roasted Chicken with Citrus Bread Crumb Topping
Serves: 4

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
3/4 tsp salt
ground pepper
1 orange, zested and cut into 8 wedges (zest reserved)
1 lemon, zested and cut into 8 wedges (zest reserved)
1/4 cup bread crumbs
3 Tb grated or shredded parmesan
6-8 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
2 Tb olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Sprinkle chicken with 1/2 tsp salt and pepper. Place in roasting pan and squeeze 4 orange and 4 lemon wedges on top of chicken, then place wedges on and around chicken. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 375 and bake for 15 minutes longer.
3. Mix all other ingredients into a paste and set aside.
4. Remove chicken from the oven. Squeeze remaining orange and lemon wedges on top. Coat top of chicken with paste and bake for 30 more minutes, or until chicken is done.
5. Let rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.