Sunday, February 13, 2011

Let me try to think up the best thing ever...


Since returning to the 'Peg after being in Windsor for holidays, I can't deny that I've had pangs of homesickness.  I'm pretty happy and comfy here, don't get me wrong... but it's not home.  Pretty normal emotions, I'm sure... but they drove me to making some very homey beef shortrib stew that's been a winter staple in the Honeybee family home for decades.

Mmm.  Beefy.
This somewhat spicy, flavourful, melt-in-your-mouth stew recipe originally came from my dear Aunt Doris (who is not at all related, however we love her like an aunt nonetheless.  She had the good fortune (?) to marry my father's best friend, the ever-hilarious Uncle John).  It may take a bit of time to prepare, but I promise you, braising the meat in the oven for the recommended length of time is SO worth it.  Here's some more pictures, and the recipe.  I highly suggest this for chasing away the cold February winter blues.

I thought the different spices and sauces that go into this recipe made a nice splash of colour in the measuring cup.
Fried beef and onions... how can you go wrong??
 Beef Shortrib Stew
Recipe from Doris Gagnier.  Additions/substitutions by me.

Makes 6 servings as presented here, I'd say.  I cut the recipe by 1/3 for myself. 

  • 3 Tbsp fat (I think I used olive oil, but you're free to use anything: butter, lard, beef fat, etc)
  • 3 lb short ribs (To be honest, we don't use actual short ribs typically.  We buy packages of pre-cubed "stewing beef".  These tend to be relatively cheap and work just as well.  Plus, no bones!)
  • 3 medium onions, sliced
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • ½ cup vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • ¼ Tbsp chili powder (I would increase this to at LEAST a 1/2 Tbsp for some nice warm heat)
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 cube beef boullion in 1 cup boiling water (I used just 1 cup of tetra-pak beef stock)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp dried mustard (if you really don't have any, you can sub prepared Dijon mustard)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
  2. Brown ribs/stewing beef cubes in fat over medium heat.  Remove to plate, reserving fats in the pan.
  3. Sautée the onions in the remaining beef fat/oil until softenend.  Place beef and onions in an oven-proof dish (I used a Corningware dish with a lid)
  4. Mix the remaining ingredients well to make the sauce.  Pour over the beef and onions.
  5. Bake at least two hours; the longer, the better.  I baked mine covered with the glass lid on the dish.
  6. Serve over mashed potatoes, with steamed veggies.
Look at all that caremelized beef-and-onion goodness.  I have to admit, though, it does make the crockery difficult to clean afterwards.  Totally worth it.
I sort of wished I had a trencher instead of a plate... here I'm enjoying my meal in the company of George R.R. Martin's epic fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire.  The first book is A Game of Thrones, which my loving family gave me (along with the second and third books) for my birthday.  The beef stew fits in perfectly with the rustic, hearty medieval fare served at Winterfell.
A very tasty plate.

Now, I know this is very appealing to the meat-and-potatoes crowd.  I've never really thought of stew as anything else.  However, thanks to some puttering around on, my tune has changed.

Well that looks different... is there even any meat in there??  No?  Huh!!
Thanks to Bal Arneson, the lovely self-titled Spice Goddess, I was able to execute this delicious, protein-packed kidney bean stew.  Definitely different from the beef stew, but also remarkably delicious, and a nice winter stew option for those who don't eat meat.

I did make a few changes to the recipe.  I'm not a huge fan of fenugreek (and consequently, didn't have any on hand), so I omitted it.  All my spices are pre-ground, so I just toasted the powder for a few seconds at the beginning.  I didn't have red kidney beans, just white, so I missed out on some of the lovely garnet colours, but c'est la vie.  I was just happy to find another application for the tamarind paste taking up space in my fridge!  Overall this stew was bright, imaginative, and flavourfully spiced without being hot-spicy.  Give this one a try... it may seem unconventional (oranges in a stew?!), but it's worth the gamble.

February in the 'Peg has been very fickle so far... first it's -40ºC, then it's a balmy plus two.  I don't understand what's going on here!!  All I know is I've been teased into thinking that spring is around the corner... but I'm trying to heed my coworkers' warnings of huge snowstorms in April.  Eek!  I guess I'll keep these stew recipes around a bit longer...

Thinking that groundhog shadow-sightings have nothing to do with meteorlogical patterns in Manitoba,

(**Apologies: the title and first line of this post is a semi-inside joke from this now-obscure web cartoon.  An oldie, but a goodie.  Brings be back to the early 2000s... sigh...)

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