Beef and white bean stew

This stew’s for you

Originally appeared in the October 20, 2011 edition of The Southside Times.

Over and over again, I remind my students that (in addition to endurance, determination, and a good sense of humor) the culinary element that will most distinguish them in the kitchen is memorizing cooking techniques.  And being autumn, with winter scratching its chilly fingers against the door, one of the techniques for which I have a loving affinity is the combination cooking method of stewing.  Read more after the jump:With stew, there are quite a few things happening here.  Number one:  it’s about transformation—you’re using humble cuts of meat, in this case, the cheap-as-all-get-out beef chuck, an otherwise tough customer which gets a melt-in-your mouth makeover.  Number two:  in part, chuck is an economic cut because of all that connective tissue, which is magically broken-down during the proper cooking process.  Combination techniques use both dry-heat (searing, grilling, sauté) and moist-heat (simmering, boiling, reducing) cooking methods, that culminate in, among other things, tender meat.

You could make an infinite number of changes to this recipe—subbing certain ingredients, replacing others…whatever it takes to make it your own.  On the other hand, the steps to stewing have few permutations.  But fear not, dear reader.  Just remember what rappers Eric B. and Rakim advised:  don’t sweat the technique.

Beef and white bean stew

Serves 3 – 4

  • 1 ½ pounds beef chuck, cut into medium cubes
  • 2 slices of thick-cut bacon
  • 1 medium carrot, small dice
  • 2 cloves garlic, small chop
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 4 fluid ounces white wine
  • 2 fluid ounces port wine
  • 32 ounces (or more) chicken or beef stock
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon green peppercorns, cracked
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup white beans (if dry, soak overnight)
  • As needed, kosher salt
  • As needed, fresh flat-leaf parsley

1.  In a tall, heavy-bottomed pot, cook bacon until fat is rendered and bacon is crispy; remove and reserve.  Season and sear the beef in batches, reserving on a plate when meat is browned and mahogany colored.

2.  Sauté carrot for several minutes; add garlic and cook briefly (don’t burn).  If more fat is needed, add a small amount of olive oil; add flour and stir to make a paste (this is called a roux).  Add both wines and, using a wooden spoon, deglaze bottom of pan by scraping up browned bits (there’s tons of flavor there).  Add beef back to pot and pour in stock until liquid just covers the top of the meat (depending on pot size, may need to adjust stock).  Add bay leaves and peppercorns.  Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for roughly an hour and a half.

3.  When liquid has reduced about a quarter of the way down, add in your soaked white beans; allow them to cook until tender.  When beef is fork-tender, ladle stew into large bowls.  Garnish with flat-leaf parsley and toasted bread.

Published in: on October 21, 2011 at 8:34 am  Leave a Comment  
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