In honor of tonight's #meatcamp chat on Twitter, The Secrets of Finding & Cooking the Not-So-Fancy Cuts, I thought I'd share my mom's beef stew "recipe." The quotes don't mean that the stew isn't fabulous, it is good enough that I've served it to guests as a fancy meal. What they do mean is that there isn't really a set recipe, my mom just made it up one time and recreates it again each time - sorta - with what she has on hand that day. That's right, she just wings it and now, so do I.
For the fun of it, I'll just share it as it came to me by email a few years back. The bold italics are my comments.
"Hi Carrie - Dad said you need my stew recipe as you had lost the one I gave you earlier. I don't really have a set recipe, but here goes:
- 1 Pound stew meat [preferably artisan or at least 100% grass-fed]
- 1/2 an onion or more chopped
- Two celery stalks if possible cut into 2-3" pieces
- 2-3 three carrots cut into 2-3" pieces
- Mushrooms, as many as you want, sliced
- Several garlic cloves, minced or finally chopped
Brown the meat in olive oil 'til brown on all sides. I use an old cast iron Dutch oven type, one with a good fitting lid, but any heavy duty pan/pot will do. Remove to separate plate or bowl.
Sauté or braise the vegetables in the pot and then set aside.
Add red wine and bring to boil scraping up any browned bits.
Put everything back into pan used for browning and sautéing.
[Now she's going to start winging it]
I season this whole thing with A-1 sauce, Kikko Man soy sauce, any favorite herb, Beau Monde seasoning, and of course, Lawry's garlic salt (just in case the garlic isn't enough). Add some water, and maybe some tomato sauce or canned tomatoes, ketchup or whatever, cover and simmer for about 2-3 hours. The celery makes the difference, something Samantha taught me. [Samantha is an old baby sitter of mine who grew up in the south]
Serve with noodles, rice or potatoes.
Enjoy!! Hope this helps -
The secret to this stew is two-fold: good quality meat and celery leaves. If you don't have wine, use water or stock. Use up tired looking vegetables from your refrigerator. Taste the stew every once in a while and if it doesn't seem right, add a little more whatever!
Finally, a money saving tip: Buy a cross-rib or other inexpensive roast and cut it into stew meat cubes yourself. It's easy and you'll likely save a few $ per lb.