The cool air is coming our way. Tonight we have two windows all the way open and no A/C. Yea!!! While I love the smell of beef stew cooking, I don’t like it when cooking odors linger for days or weeks due to constant air conditioning so we used a fan to blow out air and now just have the windows open for a cool breeze to make it good sleeping weather.
This afternoon I put together a version of beef carbonnade, a mixture of beef, onions, bacon and beer. Ingredients needed include the above plus salt and pepper, and thyme. I made it in a covered casserole and took the cover off for the last hour so that it could reduce a bit (probably used a bit much liquid). I like to serve it over egg noodles but if you prefer rice, go for it.
I only made enough for two. Crazy, I know, but Jim’s not much for leftovers and when I make a large pot roast, after 2-3 days in the frig I either give it to the dog or if it’s a weekend, shred it and make hot sandwiches (that way it doesn’t look like leftovers). If I were smart I should have made double and froze a batch, but the freezer is quite full. Dog food and constantly breaking ice maker, I know.
So for two:
1 pound (I did about 18 oz) chuck steak, cut into even bite-sized cubes about 1″x1″
2 medium onions, halved, peeled and thinly sliced
4 slices good bacon (I used applewood smoked from the butcher), cut in 1/4″ sticks
1 bottle of brown ale (thereabouts, I used too much, saving two T to taste
salt, pepper, thyme
1/2 c flour
I started by putting a heavy skillet on the stove and starting the bacon to brown with just a tsp or two of neutral oil. Prep the onions, adding as the bacon has given off its fat and is just beginning to brown. Add salt and pepper, about 1 tsp of dried thyme. Stir, letting everything get cooked and soft while you work on the meat.
Toss the beef cubes with the flour and if you’ve too much flour, shake out into a sieve. Remove the cooked onions and bacon to a colander over a bowl. Add oil to the pan and start browning the beef on all sides (salt, pepper and a pinch of thyme). Add up to 2 tsp bacon fat from the bowl for flavor. When the beef is browned, turn down the skillet a bit and add enough beer to almost cover. Stir to get the good browned stuff off the bottom of the pan.
At this time you can cover the pan and simmer for at least 90 minutes until beef cubes nearly fall apart. What happens to me with an electric stove is that if I put it at 2 it boils, at 1 it doesn’t do anything so I decided what the heck, I’ll do it in the oven!
I took a 2 qt Pyrex covered casserole, added the stew, covered it and placed it in a 325 degree oven. Twenty minutes later it wasn’t simmering so I turned it to 350, then 325, then 300. I cooked it for nearly 2.5 hours and it was melt-in-your-mouth tender. The best in perhaps fifty tries.
This recipe is different every time I make it but, trust me, it was the best, even though I used (and washed) a lot of dishes.
As to the beer, I don’t think Bud would do. Newcastle Brown Ale is something you might find in a larger bottle in a higher-end grocery. Today I used Saint Arnold’s, from Texas’ first microbrewery. Cooking for two, it took less than one bottle and I could have probably gotten away with using 2/3 or 3/4 bottle but it’s always nice to sop up extra gravy with a slice of fresh French bread!
Try it and let me know what you think! I love summer cooking but seasonal cooking is what awakens our taste buds and lets us know the leaves are turning, well, not here but somewhere, and that there is comfort food around the corner. Cheers! Dee