The price of success

No matter how good your sous vide processed¬†BEEF comes out, it is almost inevitable that you will find yourself with surplus on occasion. The alternative would mean you ran out before you finished feeding your family or guests. Even chefs must submit to some inaccuracies in production volume. Cold sandwiches and soups are popular candidates for recycling what I steadfastly refuse to call “left overs,” but there are other options too.

Let me stew on this for a minute

Here’s an obvious one that has been sadly relegated to either the frozen food section of the market, or, even worse, the canned food aisle. Many of us have fond memories of childhood beef stews, but I never really had a good one until an Austrian chef/instructor got me a job working for a French trained Swiss chef who showed me what my mother’s index cards could not.

Ingredients:

Sous vide processed beef, any type, large dice, 12 oz/350 g.
Vegetable oil or shortening, 3 oz/90 g.
Celery, 4 stalks, cut coarsely.
Carrots, 2 each, cut coarsely (do not peel).
Onions, 1 each, cut coarsely (do not peel).
Tomato paste, 1 can, 6 oz/180 g.
Celery, 2 stalks, cut into medium dice.
Carrots, peeled, 1 each, cut into medium dice.
Red potatoes, 1-2 each, approximately 8 oz/240 g.

Peas, frozen, 3 oz/90 g.

Fry

Preheat a large skillet to 250 F/121 C. Add the meat and the oil to the pan.

Arrange the meat so that each piece sits flat against the surface of the pan, but do not stir once you have done so.

Allow the meat to fully brown on the first side. The browner the better. Impatience will give you a pink/purple stew.

Once browned, flip each piece and repeat the process.

Remove the meat from the pan and set aside. Bear with me.

Add the coarsely cut vegetables.

Arrange so that they sit flat on the bottom of the pan–again, we want a deep brown color. Excessive stirring is a nervous habit common to amateurs and professionals alike. Stirring cools the pan. Let the stuff cook. Reduce the heat if necessary to eliminate popping noises, or if you start to smell dark caramel.

Very brown. The vegetables should actually be cooked through, similar to “pan roasted.” Fully denatured.

Combine the tomato paste with an equal amount of water (or wine) and add to the pan.

Stir to coat the vegetables, and, again, let the ingredients cook. Reduce the heat to medium.

A crust will slowly develop on the bottom of the pan.

Sure, stir “occasionally.”

This is not too dark. If you see blue smoke, THAT’S too dark.

The tomato paste should stop looking like ketchup.

Add two quarts of water.

Bring to a boil and simmer for at least one hour, reducing by half.

This will release all the flavor and color from the vegetables.

Strain the sauce and stage into tall glasses or measuring cups.

The excess fat will float to the top.

Skim with a spoon, save the skimmings and refrigerate. The fat will harden so that it can be removed, and you will be able to avail yourself of that much more stock.

This is the color.

Return the stock to the pan, bring to a boil and add the meat.

Add the celery and the onions, return to boil, simmer for half an hour.

Add the potatoes, return to a boil and simmer for yet another half hour.

Check your seasonings and thicken as needed with roux:
Heat 2 Tablespoons of oil in a pan to 250 F/121 C. Remove from heat and add 3 Tablespoons of flour, stir to dissolve–do not brown the flour–another myth dispelled. Allow to cool and add to the simmering stew–it will thicken immediately. Add the peas to heat, but do not boil again unless you like gray peas.

Service

What could be simpler?

Norm King