Home-Made Beef Stew Tomorrow! YAY!

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    Jun 12, 2016 1:15 AM GMT
    Tomorrow (Sunday) my husband is making me a beef stew. I can't wait. He usually cooks mostly Italian dishes, but he finally caved to my nagging. Even though stew is more commonly a cold winter comfort food, it's always summer here in South Florida. If we followed the weather rule I'd never get any stew. So we'll lower the A/C. icon_rolleyes.gif

    I wanted something similar to what my half-Irish grandmother made. I was too young to know how she made it (I was 10 when she died after a long illness), but I do remember some of what was in it. And what I've liked in stews since then. He also looked up recipes on the Internet.

    So of course there'll be cubes of beef, and halved small potatoes, pearl onions, carrots, celery, mushrooms, green peas, all in a thick gravy. Along with fresh herbs he'll cut from his garden, and some red wine. He can hardly cook or bake anything without using wine; that Italian heritage part of him can't be suppressed even for a basically northern European dish.

    Then it'll get cooked for several hours in a ridiculously heavy iron Dutch oven I bought him a few months ago. It benefits me to indulge his every kitchen cookware whim. He'll cook more than we need for our meal, the remainder a reheatable leftover for later, and some we'll give to friends.

    I'll report here on the results, and his exact recipe if I can get it. And next he's talking about Beef Burgundy (Boeuf Bourguignon), and Noodles Romanoff, 2 more of my favorites. Now if I can get him to duplicate my grandmother's vegetable beef soup (as my late partner succeeded in doing) I'll have scored a grand slam!

    It's nice to be indulged like this by him, but I also think not a bad idea for him to expand himself beyond his Italian cuisine, which he's already mastered and is just repeating. I'll try to get his recipes and post them, right here on the RJ "Food Channel". LOL! Although his cooking (but never his baking) is very free-form without strict quantities and times, more experience & gut instinct, just like his Italian mother & grandmother did, upon whom he bases his cooking style.
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    Jun 12, 2016 3:19 PM GMT
    OK, getting excited now. He assembled all the ingredients this morning, cut & trimmed some, picked herbs from his garden, and has begun the cooking.

    First step was to cover the Dutch oven's inside bottom in a thin layer of olive oil, then heat it on the stove without the lid, and braise the cubed beef in it. It's an enameled cast iron Le Creuset, can be used as a cooking surface with plastic utensils.

    Then he removed the beef and set it aside to drain. Next went in a can of prepared brown beef gravy, without removing the slight amount of residual olive oil. To which he added a little of his own tomato sauce, and some beef broth. Also the red wine (he rarely measures, but from what I can see left in the new bottle I'd estimate he used about 4 ounces), along with his garden herbs oregano, rosemary and thyme. Parsley goes in later.

    When the gravy just began to boil he added the vegetables, but not yet the meat, and placed the lid on at low heat. This is where we are now, for the next approx. 90 minutes, as the gravy reduces down and the vegetables soften. Then the meat will go in for another hour or so. He's decided not to move it into the range oven, but to keep it on the stovetop. For one thing it now weighs an incredible amount, would be dangerous to attempt to lift when hot. For another the cast iron is supposed to cook very evenly, especially with the iron lid on and the burner temp low.

    I suppose we could also use one of our electric slow cookers. One is an oval shape like this Le Creuset, with the same capacity, and has digital controls for time & temp. And the thick crock insert should cook as well. But he wanted to use this Dutch oven. I also wonder why the meat won't be added until later, I would think the goal was to make it very tender. But he's the chef, so I'm just observing and reporting.
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    Jun 12, 2016 3:59 PM GMT
    OK, beef was just added at about 45 minutes, sooner than he had projected. I asked him why the separate timing for the beef, and turns out it wasn't for some arcane culinary reason. He said he just needed more room because he made so much (he always does) that the iron oven was already full. So he had to wait until the vegetables shrank a little and the gravy reduced.

    He also agrees that the electric slow cooker could work as well, except for not being able to braise the beef in it. That step would require using a pan on the stovetop. I'm keeping all this in mind, with an eye to future meals I can prepare myself. A set-and-forget crock pot would much better suit my slight degree of interest in cooking. And maybe is an item some of you guys might have, too, rather than some specialty cast iron Dutch oven.

    BTW, you might wonder why I didn't ask him these questions while he was in the process. Well, he does NOT like distractions when he's working in the kitchen, nor even tolerate having anyone else in there with him. So I was sorta peeking in from the doorway. Later I hope to get some idea of the quantities he used of everything. But as I said before, he's not a measurements guy, just eyeballs and wings it.