Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Dinner Last Night - Beef Bourguignon/Stew

I was recently diagnosed with low painfully low iron.  The kind of low iron that alarms the doctor when he reads the labs.  The kind where he starts writing prescriptions, suddenly seems busy, looking at you concerned and sifts through all the other lab work you have had over the last few years. Low iron might be the answer or at least part of the answer to some on-going health issues I have had.  That is a topic for a different post!!  But now with this new piece of information it has given me a job to do.  One of the great frustrations of having health issues is when you don't feel like there is anything you can do about it...when you start feeling like a victim.  I am a strong believer in 'victim' being an attitude....but oh boy does feeling like shit all the time SUCK! So now I have a assignment, a job......iron iron IRON!!

There are two different kinds of iron - heme and non heme.  Heme is a blood source (Meat) and non heme is a vegetable source.  Both are excellent and valuable to good health but when your iron is as low as mine is/was they recommend Heme to get it up fast.  The strange thing is...ever since I found out I have an iron issue....I have been craving red meat like crazy!  It isn't something I want often....don't get me wrong, I love a good burger as much as the next guy (maybe not as much as Big Daddy) but we eat quite a few vegetarian meals here a week. We really aren't that 'meatcentric'. Now I want beef!! A hot beef injection!!........what?  name the movie!  I decided that some beef stew might help.

Remember in Julie & Julia how the Julie character talks about Julia Child's coveted Beef Bourguignon? It is true that it IS that good. But not really all that kid friendly and I like more broth than what is yielded in her recipe. My 'stew' is a much easier version with much the same taste spectrum.  It is as rich a broth but more of it and mine has potatoes like a stew.  Also I am not a fan of using flour as a thickener and not just for the gluten reasons but I don't like the floury taste it adds.

6 strips of good bacon, sliced into small strips (organic $2)
1 1/2-2 lbs stewing beef ($16, organic and I didn't get it on sale this time), patted dry and salt and pepper'd
4 carrots, peeled and sliced into bite size pieces (organic $1.50)
1 lb of mini potatoes, cut into quarters (organic $3)
2 yellow onions, diced (organic $2)
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced (organic $0.50)
1/2 bottle of full bodied red wine ($5.00)
2 tetra packs of beef stock (organic $6)
1 1/2 cups sweet peas (organic frozen $1.50)
2 tbsps or 1/2 can of tomato paste (organic $1.50)
1 tbsp dijon mustard (organic $0.25)
2 bay leafs, crumbled
1/2 tsp thyme
1 cup of water
salt and pepper
TOTAL - $39.25, approx 6-8 servings depending on kids appetites, so between $6.54-$4.90 a serving.

Optional - mushrooms

This is one of the few dishes that I recommend doing all the mis en plas (prep) for before you start cooking because once you are cooking there is no stopping.

Over medium high heat brown your bacon in a large soup pot.  Cook it until crispy letting much of the fat render out of the bacon.  Remove to papertowel with a slotted spoon leaving the fat in the pot. Turn the heat up to high, you want the fat to start to smoke, then in batches brown the meat.  If you cook too many pieces at a time it creates too much moisture in the pot and some of the meat will not brown but steam.  They shouldn't touch each other.  When browned remove with tongs to the plate with the bacon.  When all the meat is browned, turn heat back down to medium high.

There should at this point still be some fat in the pot but if there is very little add a little oil.  Now saute the onions and carrots.  When they are softened and browned a little add the garlic.  You add this last to ensure it doesn't burn and get bitter.

When the garlic starts to soften and you can really smell it add 1/2 the called for wine.  I recommend half because you want to de-glaze the pan of all the crispy bits of meat stuck to it.  The brown bottom also adds the dark rich colour to the broth that we know stews to have.  Add back in the beef and bacon and the rest of the wine. Add the beef stock, water, mustard, tomato paste, the thyme and the bay leaf.  Let this come to a simmer.

Let this slowly simmer for an hour or two.....or longer really.  Stewing beef needs that slow simmer to soften and get melty.  If it seems the broth is getting to thick and cooking down too much add in another cup of water. Add in the potatoes about an hour before you plan on serving it and let them cook in the low heat.  Add in the peas for the last 15 minutes.  Enjoy!

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