This week I made Mark's Beef Stew from How to Cook Everything, with a modest addition in honor of St. Patrick's day: Guinness. Ireland’s famous black stout – “thinned” slightly with beef stock – makes the broth robust and dark, its mysteriously roasted flavor rippling throughout. All of the ingredients take to the Guinness in their own way – the meat gets deeply flavorful and tender, the carrots become malty and sweet, and the potatoes soak it up like sponges. You’ll be pouring your perfect pints right into the pot.
Makes: 4 to 6 servings
Time: 1 ½ to 2 hours, largely unattended
2 tablespoons neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn, or extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, lightly crushed, plus 1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 to 2 ½ pounds boneless beef chuck or round, trimmed of surface fat and cut into 1- to 1 ½-inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large or 3 medium onions, cut into eighths
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups chicken, beef, or vegetable stock, water, wine, or a combination, or more as needed*
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or ½ teaspoon dried thyme
4 medium to large waxy or all-purpose potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
4 large carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 cup fresh or thawed frozen peas
Chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish
1. Heat a large pot with a lid or a Dutch oven over medium-high heat for 2 to 3 minutes; add the oil and the crushed garlic clove; cook, stirring, for 1 minute, then remove and discard the garlic. Add the meat to the skillet a few minutes at a time, turning to brown well on all sides, about 10 minutes total. Do not crowd or the cubes will not brown properly; cook in batches if necessary. Sprinkle the meat with salt and pepper as it cooks.
2. When the meat is brown, remove it with a slotted spoon. Pour or spoon off most of the fat and turn the heat down to medium. Add the onions. Cook, stirring until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes. Add the stock, bay leaf, thyme, and meat and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and cover. Cook, undisturbed, for 30 minutes.
3. Uncover the pot; the mixture should be wet (if not, add a little more liquid). Add the potatoes and carrots, turn the heat up for a minute or so to bring the liquid back to a boil, then lower the heat and cover again. Cook for 30 to 60 minutes, until the meat and vegetables are tender. Taste and adjust the seasoning. (At this point, you may remove the meat and vegetables with a slotted spoon and refrigerate them and the stock separately. Skim the fat from the stock before combining it with the meat and vegetables, reheating, and proceeding with the recipe from this point.)
4. Add the minced garlic and the peas; if you’re pleased with the stew’s consistency, continue to cook, covered, over low heat. If it’s too soupy, remve the cover and raise the heat to high. In either case, cook for an additional 5 minutes or so, until the peas have heated through and the garlic has flavored the stew. Garnish with parsley and serve.
Beef and Guinness Stew. In Step 2, omit the flour.
Use 2 cups Guinness and 1- to 1 ½-cups beef broth for the liquid (add
more beer, broth or water as needed during the cooking process).
By Mark Bittman, Wiley, 2008. Hardcover. $35; 944 pages
Graze the food blogs and you'll find that the 13-year-old How to Cook Everything is still almost universally loved as the best resource for a fledgling cook. The audacious, brilliant title is of course ridiculous: One book can't cover all bases. But the recently revised version of this classic includes 2,000 recipes plus kitchen tips, shortcuts, basics, ingredients, and flavors. In other words, most everything.
When recipes include ethnic or other hard-to-find items, sidebars offer sources or subs. Bittman demystifies cassoulet and calls the dish "glorified beans." His interpretation takes 40 minutes to prepare (as opposed to days). Indeed, this book foreshadows Bittman's New York Times success as The Minimalist. (Bittman is also a Cooking Light columnist.)
Everyday technique is his forte, and his confident voice is present throughout.
GIVE THIS TO: Recent college graduates or anyone starting out on a cooking path. -SM
" alt="" class="editorial " src="http://media.zenfs.com/en-US/blogs/partner/2038289.jpg" align="left" width="150">Mark Bittman's award-winning How to Cook Everything has helped countless home cooks discover the rewards of simple cooking. Now the ultimate cookbook has been revised and expanded (almost half the material is new), making it absolutely indispensable for anyone who cooks-or wants to. With Bittman's straightforward instructions and advice, you'll make crowd-pleasing food using fresh, natural ingredients; simple techniques; and basic equipment. Even better, you'll discover how to relax and enjoy yourself in the kitchen as you prepare delicious meals for every occasion.