Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Beef stew 50's style

A few months ago I thawed out what is called a 7-bone chuck roast. My experience had been that slowed-cooked beef has a tendency toward “sameness” no matter what I did. Adding a fresh dose of spices near the end of the cooking time did help, but I just wasn’t satisfied.

Well, I had 3 miscellaneous beef cuts in the freezer, all only roast-worthy, which I thawed yesterday. After trimming I ended up with 2 lbs. of pretty good looking meat. On 12/14/09 I made pot roast in the manner my mother did when I was growing up in the fifties. This time I made a one-pot meal by adding vegetation for the final hour. I also didn’t use wine this time, rather beef broth (lo-fat, lo-sodium). The amount of mushroom soup and onion soup mix is adequate for 3 lbs of meat. I had only 2, but used all of it anyhow.

The instructions that popped up during a Google search were for the old onion soup, mushroom soup technique, no browning required. It was the best pot roast I think I’ve had in decades. So…here I go again.

Beef stew 50’s style
2-3 lbs. trimmed beef stew quality meat
1 package dry onion soup mix
1 can mushroom soup concentrate
1 or 2 cans beef broth
1 medium onion, quartered
4 medium red potatoes, quartered
2 large carrots, cut into 2" chunks
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup heavy cream
flour, as needed
1 tsp dried thyme or 2 stalks fresh thyme

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.

Put the beef into a Dutch oven or other large stew pot, in one layer if possible. Top the beef with the onion soup mix and then the mushroom soup concentrate (don’t add water). Add enough water to come ¾ of the way up the beef (you don’t want it to wash off the dry toppings. Place the onions around the edges.

Bake covered for 2 hours. Reduce the oven to 250 degrees. Bake for another hour, adding in the potatoes and carrots and more beef broth if necessary. Sprinkle some salt and pepper over them. Remove meat and vegetables to an oven-proof bowl, cover with foil and place the bowl in the oven. Turn off the oven.

Pour the juices into a large measuring cup or a bowl. Skim off as much fat as you can. Place juices in a sauce pan over medium heat. Whisk in 1 tbsp flour for each cup of liquid. Add thyme and cream and bring to a simmer. Taste and adjust seasonings. Keep at a strong simmer until thickened. Here in mile-high Denver more flour is often necessary and a surprising length of time for the thickening to occur.

Serve up meat and veggies and top with gravy.

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