Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. -Mark Twain

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Beef Stewed in Dark Beer

For this recipe I used a handwritten beef stew recipe I once found tucked away in an old cookbook and made a couple of changes to suit my tastes. Besides, I didn't have some of the ingredients on hand, such as ligonberry jelly. So though the basic recipe belongs to whoever wrote that recipe down years ago (hat tip!), I still call it my own.

This has a little bite to it due to the use of jalapeno jelly at the end of the cooking time (available in most major US grocery stores in the Mexican food section), and the beer plus a long cooking time makes it rich and succulent (don't you love that word?). It's perfect for a cool winter night, the ingredients are simple to find in most Mexican tiendas, and there's enough to feed a family (or for leftovers later in the week).

You'll notice there are no potatoes, carrots nor any of the other usual vegetable suspects in this stew. You can add some if you like, but it will alter the flavor.

BEEF STEWED IN DARK BEER:

Ingredients:
  • 3 Tbsp Flour
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Pounds stew meat or boneless beef chuck cut into 2−inch cubes
  • About 4 Tbsp Olive or Canola oil
  • 2 Tbsp Butter
  • 6 Medium sweet onions, thinly sliced (can use your basic Bermuda onion if necessary)
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
  • 12 Ounces Negro Modelo (or other dark Mexican beer)
  • 1/2 Cup Beef broth (just use the kind you buy in a box at the store)
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 1/4 tsp powdered thyme
  • 2 tsp Jalapeno jelly
  • 1/4 Cup Red wine
  • 1/4 Cup Minced cilantro for garnish (optional)
Put the flour in a paper or plastic bag, season with salt & pepper and toss to mix. Add beef cubes and shake until meat is evenly coated. Remove beef to a platter and set aside.

In a big Dutch oven (4 to 5 quarts) over medium heat, heat the oil until it starts to shimmer but isn't smoking. Add half the beef cubes (it might spit on you, so be careful) and brown until golden. Remove to a platter and repeat the process with the other half of the meat.

Turn the heat up to medium high. Add the butter to the remaining oil (this adds extra flavor and helps carmelize the onions). When the butter has melted add the onions and saute, stirring frequently, for about 15 minutes or until the onions are soft and brown. About 10 minutes into the cooking, add garlic and continue stirring.

Slowly add the beer, wine and beef stock to the onions, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen the drippings. Return the beef to the pan, lower the heat to its lowest temperature/flame, and add the bay leaf and thyme. Stir it all together. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.

Cover tightly and simmer for 2 to 2 1/2 hours until beef is falling-apart tender. Uncover the pot and cook the liquid down a bit to thicken. Remove the bay leaf. Stir in the jalapeno jelly and simmer for another couple of minutes. Adjust the seasonings to your taste. Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Serve this in bowls just as it is or over white rice, with a side of veggies or a green salad, and warm tortillas or a crusty roll to sop up the sauce.

Buen provecho!

If you have a favorite recipe for a Mexican or Mexican-inspired dish, I'd love to add it to our recipe box! email lahuerita2@gmail.com (and put "recipe" in the subject box so I'll know what it's about)