Sunday, February 21, 2010
There are certainly worse predicaments than having your cousin, who works for a beer and wine distributor, drop almost three cases of craft beer off at your apartment in the middle of February. The shipment conveniently arrived just as I was re-introducing booze to my diet after nine months of limiting myself to half-glasses of wine, and for the first week or so, I happily dipped into our stash a few evenings a week.
Then I came across a recipe for Beer-Braised Beef with Onion, Carrot and Turnips, calling for 12 ounces of dark beer. It sounded cozy and warm and hearty--and a nice way to make the most of our recent windfall. And so I set about browning cubes of boneless chuck roast, which had been dredged in flour, salted, and peppered, in a splash of oil in my Dutch oven. The next 10 minutes were pretty much the most active part of this dish's cooking process--and that's not saying much, since the activity entailed stirring the beef around every few minutes to let each side get a little crispy. After such heavy work, I poured in a bottle of River Horse Special Ale, a cup of beef stock, some crushed garlic cloves, and a bay leaf. Then I lugged the heavy pot, tightly lidded, into a 300-degree oven for an hour and a half.
When I opened the pot 90 minutes later to slip in the carrots, I was greeted with the steamy and savory beginnings of a stew; 25 minutes later, when it was time to add the onions and parsnips, the meat was even further broken down. And after another hour had passed, the beef was completely fork-tender.
Now, this recipe comes from Cooking Light, so I shouldn't be surprised that it tells you to strain off the fat from the stew's liquid before serving. I skipped this step. I was feeling kind of lazy, and honestly, there didn't seem to be that much fat to skim, anyway. So perhaps this dish wasn't as light as it could have been. But it was awfully tasty. Over three hours, the beer and beef stock mellowed the meat into submission, and the veggies were sweet and perfectly tender, too. A perfect winter meal that I neglected to photograph (hence the pic, courtesy of CookingLight.com), but that we happily scarfed down with a salad and crusty bread. Thanks for the beer, Dan! --S