Hearty Beef Stew and Yorkshire Pudding

The first Friday of the month is reserved for recipes. You can see additional First Friday Food posts here.

The Reason:

Beef stew. What could be better on a cold, December day? I’m talking a hearty beef stew, thick, with big chunks of meat and potatoes, the kind that fills you up, warms you up, and sticks to your ribs. I’m talking real beef stew, man. The kind of meal my Grandpa Halbach would have inexplicably served when we arrived at his house at 12 p.m., as if meat and potatoes were the food equivalent of saying, “hello”.

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But wait, there’s more.

You need a little bread to go with a stew like that, and Yorkshire pudding is just the thing.

2014_11_21_0412This is an 18th century meal. This is the kind of meal civilization was built on. You eat a meal like this, and you’re ready to take on the world. You’ve got the energy to do whatever you need to do: overthrow a tyrannical monarchy, pen some important documents with a feather quill, invent electricity, wear buckles on your shoes, whatever you want.

Take a nap, maybe. You earned it.

Patriot.

The Journey:

When it comes to cutting onions, I cry faster than James Van Der Beek watching The Notebook.

The last time I made this, I made a double batch. That’s 4 onions. This from a guy who cries cutting green onions. Luckily, I came prepared.

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(Onion Goggle Selfie)

Unfortunately, onion goggles cannot prevent me from weeping big tears of joy at the site of this delicious plate of hearty meat:

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Big Plate of Meat Selfie

Before Sara made it the first time, I couldn’t have told you what Yorkshire pudding was. An English dessert, right? Wrong.

However, I fully endorse any recipe that can be described as, “biscuits + meat drippings”. In fact, we use leftover bacon grease to cook ours, just in case you had any part of your heart that wasn’t already in failure from that meat picture up there.

The Verdict:

If I had one knock against this, it’s that perhaps I need to dial back the pepper a bit. It’s actually decently spicy, and it doesn’t really need to be. Other than that, though, delish.

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The Recipe:

Hearty Beef Stew, from about.com:

  • 1 lb boneless chuck roast, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp freshly ground pepper (this makes a pretty peppery stew, you may want to adjust down)
  • 2 yellow onions, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 4 carrots, peeled, cut into 1-inch slices
  • 2 stalks celery, cut into 1-inch slices
  • 3 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut in eighths
  1. On medium-high heat, add the vegetable oil to a large heavy pot (one that has a tight fitting lid).
  2. When it begins to smoke slightly, add the beef and brown very well. Do in batches if necessary. Add the salt and pepper as the beef browns.
  3. Once browned, remove the beef with a slotted spoon set aside.
  4. Add the onions and sauté for about 5 minutes, until softened.
  5. Reduce heat to medium-low, and add the flour and cook for 2 minutes stirring often.
  6. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  7. Add wine and deglaze the pan, scraping any brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. The flour will start to thicken the wine as it comes to a simmer.
  8. Simmer wine for 5 minutes, and then add the broth, bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, and the beef.
  9. Bring back to a gentle simmer, cover and cook on very low for about 1 hour.
  10. Add potatoes, carrots, and celery, and simmer covered for another 30 minutes or until the meat and vegetables are tender. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  11. Turn off heat and let sit for 15 minutes before serving.

Yorkshire Pudding, adapted very slightly from The Magic Onions:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • pinch of salt
  • a muffin tin
  • leftover bacon grease
  1. Pour the milk and eggs in a bowl and mix thoroughly.
  2. Put the flour and salt in another bowl. Make a volcano hole in the middle of the flour.
  3. Pour the milk and egg mixture into the center of the flour.
  4. Now for the trick… use a wooden spoon to gently swill the milk and egg mixture around in the middle of the flour volcano hole. Each ‘swill’ will grab a little of the flour from the side of the bowl and mix it into the mixture. Around and around and around until, slowly and gently, all the flour mixes in.
    **Note: Honestly, I don’t know why you have to do it this way, instead of just mixing it. I followed the directions, but I’m not sure it makes much of a difference.**
  5. Set your Yorkshire pudding mixture aside for at least an hour.
  6. Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees F. Put 2 teaspoons of bacon grease in the bottom of each pan in the muffin tin.
    **Note: Try not to put too much bacon grease in. It doesn’t take much, less than you think.**
  7. Put your muffin tin in the hot oven for 10 minutes or until the oil is very hot (almost smoking)
  8. Carefully (it’s VERY hot) take it out of the oven (and close the oven again to keep the heat in) and quickly pour or spoon the Yorkshire pudding mixture into the muffin tins, filling about two thirds full. Try to do this as fast as you can as you don’t want the oil to cool.
  9. Return muffin tin to the oven and bake for 20 minutes at the same high heat. You can NOT peek! Don’t open your oven until the 20 minutes is up.
  10. After 20 minutes, your Yorkshire puddings should be perfect.
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