Making a tasty beef stew sounds seems like an easy enough job for most. As soon as the early work is completed, your pot can be left to simmer away with little more attention needed. Nevertheless, this does not mean that making a beef stew is totally that straightforward. Making warm, comfortable dishes like beef stew can be an art form It will sometimes be too thin or thick, the beef can dry out and become undesirable to eat; the vegetables that you choose to use can become under or over cooked. It can be a tricky balance to get it right, so you will need to know all the mistakes to avoid when making beef stew.
Cutting Vegetables Into the Wrong Size
It is a basic fact that if you keep all your veggies to a similar shape and size then they will all cook more evenly. Your beef stew will be left to cook away all day and will smell really great. However, when you come to eat it, some of your vegetables will be hard and crunchy and some may have even totally vanished. Cutting up all of your vegetables to a similar size is the key to accomplishing the best consistency. If you do prefer a bit of crunch on your veggies, add them to your stew when you have about an hour in cooking time left to go. This will prevent you from getting vegetables that fall apart or become sloppy. But then again, they ought to be soft enough or else your stew will resemble a soup instead so practice getting it right.
Braising Your Beef Using Water
Stew is fundamentally a meat braised in a fluid. You throw in other ingredients to give it taste like carrots and onions and then you are done. However, know body has said that the chief fluid ought to be water. In an ideal world, you will use either a beef stock or broth to add additional flavor to your meal. Bouillon paste can be found in many stores and will add to the flavor of a beef stew so is perfectly satisfactory to use too. Certainly, even if the only stock you have in your cupboard is vegetable stock, it will absolutely be better for your beef stew than using water and it will not make the stew taste to veggie. The reason that you really want to use more than just water is simply to add much more flavor. Water is great for a great many dishes, but stock will give your stew a pleasing depth of flavor.
The Type of Beef You Use
The real reason beef chuck is thought to be great for a beef stew is exactly the reason that makes it bad to grill, it can be very tough. This is due to the fact that it comes from the cow’s muscles which benefits from exercise, so this toughens up those particular bundles of fibres and connective tissue. This connective tissue will mean that you will be chewing it forever if you have cooked the chuck on a high heat. However, when you simmer it in a stew slowly, then hopefully you find it melts and turn out to be gelatin giving the beef a delightful succulent feel. And you will also appreciate that your beef chuck is also laden with tasty flavor which adds to your whole stew. So, the advice if you want to create the best beef stew that you have ever tasted is to not select stewing meat but choose chuck instead.
Thickening Can Be a Disaster
Actually for the best textured stew try to rein in your thickening. A good beef stew never needs to be really thick. And you will have natural thickeners in your stew already as you will probably be using potatoes. Potatoes are full of starch which naturally thickens when they have been cooking in your stew for a long time. Your stew is not to be treated like a gravy so try not to add too much flour or extra corn starch. When you want your stew to be really thick, then you should coat your meat in flour before you start to help thicken up your stew and give it a richer flavor.
Searing the Beef
The minute that you have cut up your beef into equal sized pieces, you will need to brown it off. An easy mistake to avoid when making beef stew is to just add the beef to the cooking fluid and leave it. Certainly, this will probably still leave you with an edible stew, nevertheless it will be basic. When you sear your beef, it will make all types of intricate flavors, by making new flavor mixes through the combination of protein and heat. Furthermore, searing the meat gives it a much more attractive brown color which is better than cooking with grey untreated meat. You should brown all sides of the beef select cuts which have been rubbed in oil and placed over a high heat. Have no concerns about overcooking the meat as braised beef is tough anyway and using it in your stew will stop it from getting too tough.
Do Not Be Afraid of Experimenting
Do not feel that you need to be restricted to using only beef, potatoes, carrots and onions in your beef stew. It is perfectly acceptable to shake things up by adding lots of herbs such as thyme or garlic, and have fun experimenting with novel vegetables such as sweet potatoes and pumpkin. Also, you do not need to hold back on adding lots of spices to give your beef stew an exotic hint of flavor. Just ensure that you hold off from adding tender herbs such as parsley to early or they may disappear.
Prevent Overcooking Your Stew
When you are simmering timing is everything. It could take about an hour for your beef to start to break down so it needs that extra time where everything else can wait. Do not simmer your potatoes for that long as they will become mash instead. Lots of people like the convenience of adding frozen vegetables to their beef stew. So, to prevent overcooking your stew you need to remember that they will just take a short time to heat them all the way through, so wait until the end of cooking before you drop them in.
The idea that bacon can boost a beef stew ought to be obvious. One of the easiest ways to add bacon is to cut it into small pieces and pop it slowly into your pot after all your vegetables have been cooking for a while. You will need to brown off the bacon first and then add the bacon to the stew. One mistake you might make when making your beef stew is that you could be tempted to brown your beef in bacon fat, this is just not a good idea.
The irony of creating a good beef stew is that all the goodness it contains can leave it feeling heavy. Often, it is easy to forget this fact and neglect to use an acidic ingredient with vinegar, wine, or citrus juice to lighten up your stew. A big squeeze of lemon juice to your beef stew at the end of cooking time can perform miracles. An acidic ingredient will invigorate the palate and make your beef stew one of your best ever.
Keep the Fat
You need your beef stew to be deep, but not that rich that it is difficult to eat. You will have to skim the top to remove the layer of fat that forms before serving your stew. Although if you intend to refrigerate your beef stew, keep the fat layer on top as it will go hard and so it will make it easier to remove later. Just so you know if your stew gets too thick, this will make it too difficult to skim away the fat.
Serve your stew with accompaniments- Most people will get more pleasure out of their beef stew if it has got something more to it. Without a crusty white loaf of bread, a stew just does not seem the same. You could also serve your stew with lots of other things such as noodles or a side of potatoes.
Serving Stew Immediately
Less a mistake more a simple reminder that your beef stew will get better with time. Stew is a dish which tastes better the next day. Its flavors can be left to develop overnight. Leftover beef stew usually exceeds the fresh stew in flavor, intricacy and texture.
Consequently, your beef stew will be easy to cook if you avoid some common mistakes and it will be ready to feed to your hungry family. At the very least, your tasty stew will be so good you may find yourself wishing that you had made up a double batch of beef stew to guarantee an ample supply of leftovers.
- Beef & vegetable casserole – BBC Food