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Old 08-20-2012, 03:22 PM   #1
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ISO info making beef stew

The recipes I have for beef stew say to brown the cubes in melted shortening and not veggie oil, but I always use veggie oil. Before adding the cubes to the Dutch Oven I dust them with flour, salt & pepper. They brown just fine in the oil and the cubes don't get burnt, but the flour and juices(?) that accummulate on the bottom do start to get excessively brown towards my last cube batch. Do you think this wouldn't happen if I had used shortening or lard instead of the veggie oil?

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Old 08-20-2012, 03:24 PM   #2
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No there would be no difference. The stuff in the pan darkens because it's been exposed to heat for a longer period. I always use oil to brown meats for stew.

You could skip the flour and just brown the meat. If you want to thicken the liquid when the stew's done, you can add a flour slurry then.
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Old 08-20-2012, 03:54 PM   #3
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Once the beef cubes are browned (without flour) I would make a roux with the drippings, this will give you the color and it's so easy. Check the link. Best way to make a good stew. You want it fairly thin in the beginning, it will thicken naturally as you cook the stew.
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Old 08-20-2012, 10:41 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by PrincessFiona60 View Post
Once the beef cubes are browned (without flour) I would make a roux with the drippings, this will give you the color and it's so easy. Check the link. Best way to make a good stew. You want it fairly thin in the beginning, it will thicken naturally as you cook the stew.
+1

Whenever I make stew, I brown the meat cubes in oil, then start adding the veggies in the same pot. I then add a bit of beef broth to cover, and stir to loosen pan fond. Cover the pot and simmer for about 3 hours. I make my roux using equal parts bacon grease, or butter, and flour, about 3 tbs. each. Add a quarter tsp. of salt and stir the roux. Keep stirring over medium heat until it turns medium brown. Start ladling in some of the stew broth while stirring the roux. It will get thick and pasty. But don't worry. It's supposed to. Slowly ladle in more broth while stirring the roux. It will start to loosen up and turn into a thick gravy. Add every bit of that gravy to the stew and stir it in. If the stew is too thin, make more roux and repeat the process.

It's a little harder than thickening with a corn starch slurry, but it tastes so amazing. Season properly with salt, garlic, onion, and black pepper. Your Mother will kiss you on the forehead.

Seeeeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North
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Old 08-20-2012, 10:45 PM   #5
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...I make my roux using equal parts bacon grease...

Mmmm! Why didn't I think of that?
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Old 08-21-2012, 10:59 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by BirdDancer View Post
The recipes I have for beef stew say to brown the cubes in melted shortening and not veggie oil, ..... Do you think this wouldn't happen if I had used shortening or lard instead of the veggie oil?

Melted shortening IS vegetable oil.

Shortening is vegetable oil that's been hydrogenated so that its solid at room temp.

You are better off health-wise using oil.
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Old 08-21-2012, 11:11 AM   #7
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Instead of dredging the uncooked meat with flour and then browning it, here's what I do. First, season and brown the un-floured meat in batches and, once browned, add it all back to the pot. Then sprinkle the flour for the roux over the already cooked meat and stir fry for a few minutes to eliminate the raw flour flavor. Follow this by gradually adding your cooking liquids. It gives you much better control over the browning, allows you to control the exact amount of the flour added, and you don't end up with with a layer of burnt flour in the bottom of the pan.
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Old 08-21-2012, 11:20 AM   #8
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Thank you everyone for the great suggestions. They even seem easier than the method I was using.
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Old 08-21-2012, 11:41 AM   #9
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Instead of dredging the uncooked meat with flour and then browning it, here's what I do. First, season and brown the un-floured meat in batches and, once browned, add it all back to the pot. Then sprinkle the flour for the roux over the already cooked meat and stir fry for a few minutes to eliminate the raw flour flavor. Follow this by gradually adding your cooking liquids. It gives you much better control over the browning, allows you to control the exact amount of the flour added, and you don't end up with with a layer of burnt flour in the bottom of the pan.
Thats exactly what I do.

Plus you want to brown the meat itself (not the flour) to create flavor.
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Old 08-22-2012, 08:53 AM   #10
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Thats exactly what I do.

Plus you want to brown the meat itself (not the flour) to create flavor.
That depends. As the roux browns (when you brown it separate from the meat), it takes on a nut-like flavor that can compliment the beef flavor. At times, I simply make the roux, and stir in enough broth to make a thick gravy, then add that to the stew. Other times, I want the flavor of the browned roux.

Cajuns cook their roux to almost black before putting into etoufe' (sp). Also, you can use other liquids to flavor your roux as you make it into sauce, such as Worcestershire, or A1, or add garlic, onion, ground pepper, etc.

As with all great dishes, there is no one right way to make it. There are several techniques that will all produce a wonderful stew. I like to use beef heart in my stew, as it has such a rich, beefy flavor. Some people like to brown a good chuck that's been cut into bite-sized cubes, with the fat on it, until the fat is crispy good. Some like to cook the stew in a covered pot, in the oven, all day. Others use a slow cooker and let it simmer all night and day. I've used both. I've also cooked it in a covered pot on the stove top, and I've made it in 40 minutes in a pressure cooker (It tasted like it had been cooked for 10 hours when made in the p.c.).

The only wrong way to make a stew is to overcook the meat, so as to dry it out, or to burn the stew, or to make it too watery. I'm thinking that adding pumpkin pie spice would mess it up as well. But that's just me.

The point is, there are so many great ways to cook and make a stew. You can add tomato if you want. You can add so many different herbs and spices. You can tailor your stew to really make it unique, and delicious.

My DW really doesn't like flour-based gravies and sauces (I prefer them). So, usually I thicken my stews with a cornstarch slurry. Or, I'll divide the stew in half, and make my half with a roux, and her half with the cornstarch slurry.

As everyone around DC knows by now, I'm into experimenting, and trying to create new and interesting meals, sometimes altering tried and true techniques and flavors. At times, it make the meal wonderful. At times, I have to force myself to eat it, as whatever I did, wasn't as good. But that's how I learn. And I've been doing it for 35 years. You learn a lot in that amount of time. But I still consider myself a well-versed armature. Cooking is such a brad field that if you desire, you can keep learning new things for a lifetime.

Seeeeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North
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