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More beef stew

In this third annual installment, more flavorful ways to fill up and stay warm.

By Adam Ried
January 17, 2010

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In this year’s beef stew column, I’m focusing on recipes that use beer as the cooking liquid. The traditional Belgian Carbonnade a la Flamande plays the bittersweet tang of dark beer against the caramel sweetness of browned onions, and my Americanized version of Hungarian goulash uses a light Pilsener. Flavored with paprika, caraway, and bell peppers (I choose red over the traditional green), this goulash is really a hybrid of two Hungarian classics, gulyas, a beefy soup, and paprikas, from which I borrow the sour cream finish. Buttered egg noodles or boiled potatoes are an easy, natural partner for both of these stews.

Belgian Beef and Onion Stew (Carbonnade a la Flamande)

Serves 6

3½ to 4 pounds beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1½-inch chunks (about 3 pounds)

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons canola oil

3½ pounds onions (7 large), halved and thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme

½ teaspoon ground ginger

2 medium bay leaves

½ cup homemade or packaged low-sodium chicken broth

1½ cups (1 12-ounce bottle) high-quality dark beer

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1tablespoon cider vinegar

6 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

In a medium bowl, toss the beef with 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, and the flour to coat. In a large, heavy Dutch oven, heat 2 teaspoons of the oil over medium-high heat until it ripples. Add half of the beef, so that pieces are close together in a single layer but not touching (do not crowd), and cook without moving them until deeply browned on the bottom, about 3 1/2 minutes. Turn the pieces and cook, again without moving, until second side is deeply browned, about 3 1/2 minutes longer; transfer to a medium bowl and set aside. Heat 2 more teaspoons of oil and repeat to cook remaining beef, reducing the heat as necessary if the drippings in the pot begin to burn.

Reduce the heat to medium, heat the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil, and add the onions and ½ teaspoon salt. Stir, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally and scraping the bottom of the pot, until the onions are soft and lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, ginger, and bay leaves, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 40 seconds. Add the chicken broth, increase the heat to high, and, using a wooden spoon, scrape up the brown film on the bottom of the pot until it is all dissolved, about 2 minutes. Slowly pour in the beer, then add the brown sugar, vinegar, and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Add the cooked beef with accumulated juices, submerge it in the liquid, bring to a boil, reduce heat to very low, cover, and simmer until the beef is tender, about 2 1/2 hours (set the lid slightly askew if the stew looks too soupy).

Remove the bay leaves. Taste the stew and adjust the seasoning with additional salt and pepper, if necessary. Stir in 4 tablespoons of the parsley, and serve at once with boiled potatoes or buttered egg noodles, sprinkling each portion with some of the remaining parsley.

Beef Goulash

Serves 6

3½ to 4 pounds beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1½-inch chunks (about 3 pounds)

Salt and black pepper

2 tablespoons flour

6 slices bacon, cut into thin strips (about 6 ounces)

3 large onions, cut into 1½-inch wedges

4 cloves garlic, minced

¼ cup sweet paprika

1 teaspoon caraway seeds

½ teaspoon dried marjoram or oregano

2 medium bay leaves

2 tablespoons tomato paste

½ cup homemade or packaged low-sodium chicken broth

1½ cups (1 12-ounce bottle) Pilsener beer

2 medium red bell peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces

2/3 cup (full fat) sour cream, at room temperature

6 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

In a medium bowl, toss the beef with 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, and the flour to coat. In a large, heavy Dutch oven over medium-low heat, fry the bacon, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a paper-towel-lined plate and reserve; pour off all but 2 teaspoons of the fat and set aside. Heat pot over medium-high heat until bacon fat begins to bubble, about 40 seconds. Add half of the beef, so that pieces are close together in a single layer but not touching (do not crowd), and cook without moving until deeply browned on the bottom, about 3½ minutes. Turn the pieces and cook, again without moving, until second side is deeply browned, about 3½ minutes longer; transfer the beef to a medium bowl and set aside. Heat 2 more teaspoons of bacon fat and repeat to cook remaining beef, reducing the heat as necessary if the drippings in the pot begin to burn.

Return the pot to the burner, reduce the heat to medium, heat 2 more teaspoons of bacon fat, and add the onions and ½ teaspoon salt. Stir, then cook until just starting to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, paprika, caraway, marjoram or oregano, bay leaves, and tomato paste, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the chicken broth, increase the heat to high, and, using a wooden spoon, scrape up the brown film on the bottom of the pot until it is all dissolved, about 2 minutes. Slowly pour in the beer. Add the cooked beef with accumulated juices, push it down into the liquid, bring to a boil, reduce heat to very low, cover, and simmer until the beef is tender, about 2½ hours.

Add the bell peppers, reserved bacon, and ½ teaspoon each salt and black pepper to the pot, stir to mix, cover the pot, increase the heat to medium, and cook until the bell peppers are tender, about 12 minutes. Remove the bay leaves.

In a medium nonreactive bowl, whisk the sour cream with about 1/3 cup of the stew juices just until incorporated. Add the sour cream mixture and 4 tablespoons of the parsley to the stew, and stir to distribute. Taste the stew and adjust the seasoning with additional salt and black pepper, if necessary. Serve at once with boiled potatoes or buttered egg noodles, sprinkling each portion with some of the remaining parsley.

Send comments or suggestions to Adam Ried at cooking@globe.com.

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