During the recent bomb cyclone snowstorm, I couldn't go to the store for several days as I waited to get plowed out of my driveway. I had plenty of food, but a lot of it was that first of January "diet" food, and I was craving a warm stick-to-your ribs stew.
It became a challenge to see what I had on hand that I could assemble into a dish that would warm my bones and satisfy my appetite. I had a hanger steak in the freezer and carrots, mushrooms, shallots and garlic on hand. I had half a bottle of burgundy (pinot noir) left over from the last supper before the storm, and so a beef burgundy stew immediately came to mind.
Because I had never made a beef burgundy stew before and was short on time, I decided to use my handy electric pressure cooker. I am a new fan of these one-pot meals and amazed at the flavor that you can coax out of a pressure cooker.
I decided to cook the hanger steak whole and still partially frozen and cut it into chunks once it was done. I like the texture of the meat better this way even though almost every stew recipe out there tells you to chunk it up first. If you don't want to use hanger steak, there are other cuts of beef that you can use.
I cleaned and sliced the carrots into round slices, cut the white mushrooms in half so that they would retain their shape during the pressure cooking, peeled the skins from the garlic cloves and the shallots but left them whole so that they would peel apart once they were cooked and add chunkiness to the stew.
To peel the garlic, I tried a new tip that will change your garlic-peeling life. I know it changed mine. A friend who does not cook, but microwaves, told me that you could microwave garlic and the peel will slide off. Like most people, I find peeling the skin off garlic cloves to be tedious.
To that end, I have tried everything including the silicone tube that promises to peel garlic but only works a fraction of the time. Having nothing to lose, I took half a bulb of garlic and placed it in the microwave for 10 seconds. I removed it, and it broke into individual cloves immediately. I then rubbed the cloves between my fingers and the peel slipped right off. New year, new kitchen tip!
But back to the stew. Once I made it, I realized that it would be even better the next day, so I poured the stew into a Dutch oven and let it sit in the fridge overnight. Besides letting all the flavors marry, I love doing this because you can skim the fat in one fell swoop by picking the solidified fat off the top. Below is all the flavor but none of the fat. This is an excellent trick for chicken soup and many other one pot soups and stews that start with raw meat.
If you want to eat the stew immediately, you can skim the fat off the top the old-fashioned way, or just eat it. I thickened my stew with an old-fashioned roux of browned butter and flour, but you could also thicken it with corn starch. Serve the stew over egg noodles, mashed potatoes or gnocchi for a very satisfying cold-weather meal.
BURGUNDY BEEF STEW
Start to finish: 75 minutes
1 hanger steak brisket or boneless short ribs, 1 1(backslash)2-2 pounds
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt
1/2teaspoon fresh-ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/8teaspoon dried sage
2 large carrots, cleaned and sliced into rounds
1/2bulb of garlic, 6-9 individual cloves peeled
6-8shallots peeled and trimmed
1 package (8-ounces) of white mushrooms, cleaned and cut in half
1 quart (4 cups) beef broth or stock
2 cups red burgundy (pinot noir)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Set whole hanger steak or other meat on a plate. Mix together the salt, pepper, rosemary and sage. If you like a more "seasoned" stew, double the spice mixture and save half of it for seasoning at the end. Season the meat with the spice rub and place in the pressure cooker or a Dutch Oven.
Pour the sliced carrots, garlic cloves, shallots and mushrooms on top of the meat. Pour the beef broth and wine over the meat and vegetables. Seal your pressure cooker or "Instant Pot" according to manufacturer directions. Set on high pressure for 23 minutes. Once it is cooked, release pressure and keep it warm.
Remove the meat and discard any connective tissue. Cut into chunks and place back into the hot pot and stir. Keep the stew on warm.
In a small skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and add the flour. Let it cook until brown and thickened. Add a little of the cooking liquid, about 1/2 cup total and let it cook until thickened, stirring frequently.
Add thickened sauce to the hot liquid and let simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes. At this point, you can taste the stew and correct any seasonings by adding salt and pepper if needed. You can also season the stew with the spice rub that you seasoned the meat with it you doubled the recipe. Serve the stew at this point, or do as I do and pour the stew into a Dutch Oven and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight.
When ready to serve, remove fat cap and simmer for 20 minutes or until hot and bubbling.
Nutrition information per serving: 364 calories; 139 calories from fat; 16 g fat (7 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 77 mg cholesterol; 42 mg sodium; 17 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 5 g sugar; 25 g protein.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Elizabeth Karmel is a barbecue and Southern foods expert. She is the chef and pit master at online retailer CarolinaCueToGo.com and the author of three books, including "Taming the Flame."
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