I really love looking to the current food magazines to see what the latest food trends are, and also to get inspiration for cooking. My latest favorite magazine is Milk Street. It’s not often (like never) that I subscribe to anything. This magazine is different. It’s not full of ads, it’s just a nice quick flash of some really good content. I don’t think I’ve put one down where I didn’t want to cook at least one of the recipes.
The latest one had a great recipe for tomato braised chicken, and it had all sorts of spices and things in it. Looked so good, and it immediately got my mind craving something of the like. When I went to the grocery store there was no chicken to be found, so I switched to stew beef and off I went.
In general, I don’t really follow recipes. In cooking school, one of my favorite chef’s told me to, “cook from your heart”. That little bit of advice has stuck with me, and probably always will. So this is a long way of saying. That lovely little recipe in the magazine, just became inspiration at this point. I completely went rogue and made up my own tomato braised thing.
To start, I coated the stew beef in flour that had been seasoned with salt and pepper. Doing this helps to create a crust on the beef when you brown it, and will also help to thicken the stew during the cooking process. I like to use a Dutch oven for the browning and stewing process. It’s a nice heavy bottomed pan and braises proteins well.
The next step is browning the beef in oil. Just add enough oil to coat the bottom of your pan. Add a few pieces of the beef. (I got about 1 pound of stew beef) It’s important to brown the beef in stages, otherwise you crowd the pan and the beef does not brown. It just get’s messy and the flour breading starts to come off, and get all sludgy. So be patient. If you don’t feel like browning all of the beef, compromise and just brown half of it. You don’t have to be super vigilant and brown each side of the beef. You could brown all the sides – and this would be very nice, but would also take a long time. So just brown each piece a little bit and move on. If at any time you notice the oil or bottom of the pan start to burn, stop and remove the oil and any burned bits. They’ll ruin the flavor. Just start with fresh oil and a new pan.
Once all the beef is browned it’s time to add the beef stock and the vegetables. I just cut up a few carrots, a stalk of celery, an onion, and a few potatoes. Tossed in all the beef, the vegetables and a quart of beef stock. I added an entire tube of tomato paste – it was 4.5 ounces, a teaspoon of salt and 1/2 a teaspoon of dried oregano. You need to bring everything up to a simmer on the stove.
Once you’ve brought everything up to a simmer, go ahead and put on the lid to the Dutch oven. We’re going to finish the cooking process in the oven. Place the Dutch oven right into a preheated 300 degree oven. You’ll just leave this here for 2 1/2 – 3 hours.
I always tend to let things go for a longer period in the oven. I do recommend checking to see how things have progressed around 2 1/2 hours. Sometimes the beef is nice and tender and doesn’t need any longer. If you forget to check and leave it for the entire 3 hours (which is how it goes at my house) You can pretty much be guaranteed that you will have some very tender beef and vegetables.
I like to serve things like this over either, rice or noodles. Tonight I really couldn’t decide which. I was craving noodles, and everyone else wanted rice. So I made both!