Monday, March 28, 2011
Misty and Stewy
Beef and Bourbon Stew
This is a juicy, meaty stew made hauntingly spicy with the addition of bourbon. The bourbon and orange peel do unexpected magic and make this stew seem ancient, in a misty-coming-in-from-out-of-the-mossy-woods type of way. Serve it to six people with a large hunk of good bread to tear apart and use to slurp up sauce. It is also wonderful over pappardelle.
You will need:
2 pounds of beef, appropriate for stewing (ribmeat, roast, tail, shank, etc) cut into 1-2 inch chunks
Salt and pepper
2 white lengths of fat Egyptian Walking onions or the white part of a small leek, sliced
6 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 pound of cremini mushrooms, quartered
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup bourbon
2 cups red wine
1 cup beef broth
1 dried chili de arbol
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1 strip of fresh orange peel, orange part only, 2 inches long
1 quart of canned tomatoes, drained of their juices
To make the stew:
Pat each piece of meat dry, then season them lightly with salt and pepper. Dredge (lightly coat) each piece with flour by tossing them around in a shallow bowl, a few at a time, with enough flour to make each piece look dusty.
In a large Dutch oven, on a medium-high setting, heat a glug of olive oil until it is ripply. Place pieces of the flour-coated meat in the pan, a few at a time, making sure to leave at least an inch of space around each. As the bottom browns, turn each piece. Brown all sides of each piece. Carefully remove each piece with tongs as it finishes browning and add a replacement until all the pieces of meat are browned. Remove all the meat from the pan and set it aside in a bowl for a few minutes.
If the pan is short on hot fat, add another glug of olive oil, then dump in the onion, garlic, carrots, and mushrooms. Cook, stirring frequently, until the edges are browned and the vegetables are beginning to soften. There should be a good collection of browned bits all over the bottom of the pan. Stir in the tomato paste and let it cook briefly, just a few seconds, until fragrant.
Watch out for the hot splatters as you pour in the bourbon, scraping up those good browned bits with a wooden spoon. The bourbon will reduce quickly to a syrup. Pour in the wine, beef broth, and add the chile, thyme, and orange peel. Add the meat and whatever juices have collected in the bowl. Add the drained tomatoes.
Bring the whole mixture to a low boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Place the lid over the pot and let the stew very gently bubble for 3 hours, checking occasionally to make sure the simmer is low and all is good in the pot.
Taste and season as necessary before serving.