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  #1  
Old 11-08-2011, 03:17 PM
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Default Winter Cooking

Okay all, it's dark out all the time now, it's getting colder and damper by the day - let's talk about winter cooking.

I'm on a mission to make a really excellent beef stew without all the fuss of beef bourginon. But the crockpost beef stew I made last week with a method that always been true to me landed me with grayish meat and tastless broth. Not rich, not tasty and not very nice. Help me out. How do you use your crockpot over the winter?
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  #2  
Old 11-08-2011, 03:20 PM
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Making a roast, mostly. Or the beef sauce for lasagna, or tortilla soup.

I haven't attempted beef stew, though. But it sounds like you might have just overcooked yours.
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Old 11-08-2011, 03:28 PM
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There's no such thing as overcooking beef stew. The longer it cooks, the more the flavors should come out...like a good chili. The key with beef stew is using a piece of roast and then breaking it apart AFTER it has been cooked. It will be far more tender that way than if you use "stew meat" chunks.

Also, seasoning more seasoning and then some more seasoning helps. Butter is a good addition too. Also, add a can of diced tomatoes. The acid and sweetness of the tomatoes will really draw it all together.
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Old 11-08-2011, 03:30 PM
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Other crock pot uses: Make a roast on day 1 and then turn the leftovers into a soup by adding things like corn, green beans, and some sort of pasta (basically whatever I have laying around whether its elbow macaroni or orso). Rice is also a good fill in.

I also like making corned beef and cabbage in the winter as well as things like pulled pork in the crock pot.
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  #5  
Old 11-08-2011, 03:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ishara View Post
I'm on a mission to make a really excellent beef stew without all the fuss of beef bourginon. But the crockpost beef stew I made last week with a method that always been true to me landed me with grayish meat and tastless broth. Not rich, not tasty and not very nice. Help me out.
What was different this time around?

I like to make braised short ribs. I make a boatload and freeze them.

Bones are the key to flavor. And so is fat. I take some bacon, chop it up, cook it in a skillet. Then I carmelize some onions in the fat, and sear some chopped carrots and turnips in it too. After that I sear some floured and seasoned bone-in short ribs in the fat, then I toss it all in the pot. Pour a bottle of red wine in there (maybe a bottle and a half, go with your gut), some equal amount beef broth, salt, pepper, garlic, a few bay leaves. Turn it on low, then I head to work. 12 hours later I skim off the fat, pull out the meat an bacon and vegetables, toss the bay leaves, and reduce the cooking liquid a bit. Whisk in some butter to the sauce before serving. And just pour it right over the ribs and veggies (and bacon)

ETA:
Thanks Davian. I forgot about the tomatoes. I throw in a can of chopped tomatoes too.
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Old 11-08-2011, 03:37 PM
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Bacon makes everything better.

So do shallots.

Another key thing to remember with cuts of meat is to cut off the sinewy tough fat but leave the good fat. One adds flavor while the other ruins it.

Quote:
ETA:
Thanks Davian. I forgot about the tomatoes. I throw in a can of chopped tomatoes too.
I literally by cases of diced tomatoes from Costco because I used them so much.
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  #7  
Old 11-08-2011, 03:40 PM
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Polenta is great too. It takes forever to do it right, but a kitchen's best kept secret is that you dont have to stir it (though it can be a pain to clean up after). If you make those short ribs then serve it over polenta, maybe grate some parm on top, you win.
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  #8  
Old 11-08-2011, 03:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Davian93 View Post
There's no such thing as overcooking beef stew. The longer it cooks, the more the flavors should come out...like a good chili. The key with beef stew is using a piece of roast and then breaking it apart AFTER it has been cooked. It will be far more tender that way than if you use "stew meat" chunks.

Also, seasoning more seasoning and then some more seasoning helps. Butter is a good addition too. Also, add a can of diced tomatoes. The acid and sweetness of the tomatoes will really draw it all together.
You have clearly never had my mother's beef stew.
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  #9  
Old 11-08-2011, 03:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Davian93 View Post
Bacon makes everything better.

So do shallots.
They sure do. Whenever you need onions, if you have shallots on hand, feel free to do a full or partial substitution.

Quote:
Another key thing to remember with cuts of meat is to cut off the sinewy tough fat but leave the good fat. One adds flavor while the other ruins it.
Yup. Boned meat is great too. Especially with marrow. And the longer the better.
Quote:
I literally by cases of diced tomatoes from Costco because I used them so much.
Easily my favorite fruit, tomatoes are.
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  #10  
Old 11-08-2011, 03:46 PM
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Quote:
Yup. Boned meat is great too. Especially with marrow. And the longer the better.
Which is why Osso Bucco is probably the greatest beef dish in the world despite using a very cheap cut of meat. Mmm...marrowy goodness.
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  #11  
Old 11-08-2011, 03:50 PM
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Exactly.
I said 'short rib' but I meant that.

Like this:

Served over polenta.
My recipe makes a redder (and probably richer) sauce, but the central theme is the same

ETA:
Just line a crock pot with the things in the morning. Sear them first, of course. Then throw in your aromatics and your root vegetables and your bacon, red wine, beef stock, tomatoes, pepper, salt, bay leaves. have dinner a little over 12 hours later. It freezes great.
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Last edited by The Unreasoner; 11-08-2011 at 03:52 PM.
  #12  
Old 11-08-2011, 03:51 PM
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I make it over saffron risotto usually...with a side of carrots, potatoes and shallots braised with it in the liquid.
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  #13  
Old 11-08-2011, 04:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Davian93 View Post
There's no such thing as overcooking beef stew. The longer it cooks, the more the flavors should come out...like a good chili. The key with beef stew is using a piece of roast and then breaking it apart AFTER it has been cooked. It will be far more tender that way than if you use "stew meat" chunks.

Also, seasoning more seasoning and then some more seasoning helps. Butter is a good addition too. Also, add a can of diced tomatoes. The acid and sweetness of the tomatoes will really draw it all together.
I've always used stewing beef for the crockpot stew. We do a really (really) great pot roat, so maybe I'll do what you suggest and turn the leftovers into stew...

And I did season (oregano, basil, a teeny bit of cumin, pepper and a bay leaf, but the one thing I did differently was use low-sodium broth. Blech. Never again.

I loathe cooked tomatoes, but my sister suggested the very same thing, so I guess I'll give it a go. What do you think about substituting tomato paste instead? All the flavour and thickness without all the nasty muchy cooked tomatoes?

Oooh...and another thought to make it thick and awesome was a roux - what say you?

Also, what fat do you put into your stew? Butter for flavour, or oil? I use a little olive oil in the bottom, but may switch to butter.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Davian93 View Post
Which is why Osso Bucco is probably the greatest beef dish in the world despite using a very cheap cut of meat. Mmm...marrowy goodness.
I had the very best Osso Bucco I have EVER had in my life in Italy on the honeymoon. It was ridiculously velvety and tender and oh, so marrowy. Mmmmm.

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Unreasoner View Post
ETA:
Just line a crock pot with the things in the morning. Sear them first, of course. Then throw in your aromatics and your root vegetables and your bacon, red wine, beef stock, tomatoes, pepper, salt, bay leaves. have dinner a little over 12 hours later. It freezes great.
Ah, but that's contentious! Some say yes to searing, some say no. I seared for colour this time around and got pull apart meat that was way chewier than it should have been. Bacon in stew is silly. You may as well use pork butt. The thing that makes bacon so awesome is the smoky crispiness - which you lose the second you soak in stuff. Then it just becomes a vaguely smoky tasting piece of pork fat. Yuck. But yes, I tend to make it up the night before, stick it in the fridge overnight and pop it in the crockpot in the morning. Easy peasy.

Also, have you used crockpot liners? Cause they are teh awesome. No more washing out leftovers for me! Just tie up the bag, toss it, wipe down the pot and you're good to go!
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  #14  
Old 11-08-2011, 04:45 PM
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The key to beef stew, imo, is seasoning and searing the meat before putting it in the crockpot. I also like to put some dark beer with the broth. Usuallly a half bottle of becks dark or guiness is the way I go...then somebody has to finish the other half (dammit). I do the same thing with roast, but use a lager instead because I don't want the thick barley taste.

Also, Bay leaves. Everybody forgets bay leaves.
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Old 11-08-2011, 04:58 PM
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Old 11-08-2011, 05:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ishara View Post
I loathe cooked tomatoes, but my sister suggested the very same thing, so I guess I'll give it a go. What do you think about substituting tomato paste instead? All the flavour and thickness without all the nasty muchy cooked tomatoes?
Well, when you're cooking in the 10+ hour range, it makes little difference. The onions and shallots will have practically disintegrated, so will the tomatoes. But I would think paste would be just as well.
Quote:
Oooh...and another thought to make it thick and awesome was a roux - what say you?
Depends on everything else. I generally like to make my cooking liquid thick by reduction, but occasionally I find roux works better (usually for non-stew sauces though).
Quote:
Also, what fat do you put into your stew? Butter for flavour, or oil? I use a little olive oil in the bottom, but my may switch to butter.
I throw butter in at the end. But the main fat in the mix while its cooking is bacon.
Quote:
Ah, but that's contentious! Some say yes to searing, some say no. I seared for colour this time around and got pull apart meat that was way chewier than it should have been.
Hmm. I had no idea this was a contentious issue. It's up to you, of course. My guess would be that you seared stew meat pieces rather than a few larger cuts. Searing can seize meats up, and the smaller pieces faster. It's important to remember that you aren't trying to cook the meat through at all when searing. Searing does caramelize some sugars and activate some enzymes that generally makes it tastier.
Quote:
Bacon in stew is silly. You may as well use pork butt. The thing that makes bacon so awesome is the smoky crispiness - which you lose the second you soak in stuff. Then it just becomes a vaguely smoky tasting piece of pork fat. Yuck.
It's up to you, of course. I find that the smokiness adds to the cooking liquid, and the fat adds a great deal of flavor. It'll mostly disintegrate anyway. Especially if you chop it up first. You could just use pork butt, I suppose, but cured bacon does some things regular pork butt would not. There is a reason most beef bourginon recipes call for bacon or pancetta.
Quote:
Also, have you used crockpot liners? Cause they are teh awesome. No more washing out leftovers for me! Just tie up the bag, toss it, wipe down the pot and you're good to go!
I haven't, but I am intrigued. Do they last long enough for cooking in the 12 hour range?
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Old 11-08-2011, 05:43 PM
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Default Swedish beef stew

A traditional swedish beef stew is called Kalops.


1 kg (~2 lb) common beef meat(in 1-2 inch pieces)
2-3 carrots
2 onions
4-5 dl (~1 1/2 - 2 cups) water
2 bayleafs
10 whole allspice
1 1/2 - 2 tea sp salt
3-4 tbl.sp flour
1 1/2 dl (1/2 - 2/3 cups) water


Brown the meat
Transfer it to a pot.
Add the first amount of water
Add bayleafs, salt and Allspice
Lid on - up to boiling
Let it simmer for 1 - 1/2 hours
Add sliced carrots and wedged onions
Lid on - up to boiling
Let it simmer for 1/2 hour
Mix the flour (really well) with the second amount of water
Strain it (to get rid of flour lumps) into the stew
Taste it

Traditionally served with potatoes and pickled beatroots alternatively lingonberry jam (cranberry jam would probably work as well)

Enjoy and don't blame me if you screw it up.

Last edited by Tomp; 11-08-2011 at 08:44 PM.
  #18  
Old 11-08-2011, 06:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ishara
One thing I did differently was use low-sodium broth.
~shudders~ Yup, that was a mistake.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ishara
What do you think about substituting tomato paste instead?
I prefer diced as I think they have better flavor and I tend to get the ones with garlic/onion added in too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ishara
Also, what fat do you put into your stew? Butter for flavour, or oil? I use a little olive oil in the bottom, but may switch to butter.
I sear the meat in butter, then deglaze with some red wine in the pan, quickly cook the shallots/carrot/celery mix in that for maybe 60-120 seconds and then dump it all in the crock pot.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ishara
Ah, but that's contentious! Some say yes to searing, some say no. I seared for colour this time around and got pull apart meat that was way chewier than it should have been.
Always sear...it adds flavoring through the carmelization process if nothing else. The key is to have the pan be super hot and to not let it sear too long...you want sear with rawness on the inside. It will tenderize in the stew at that point.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ishara
Bacon in stew is silly.
Bacon is never silly, dear.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ishara
Also, have you used crockpot liners? Cause they are teh awesome. No more washing out leftovers for me! Just tie up the bag, toss it, wipe down the pot and you're good to go!
Yeah, they are nice depending on what you're making. I dont usually use them but I do like the lack of cleaning up with them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Unreasoner
I generally like to make my cooking liquid thick by reduction
I just let it reduce too...maybe add some cornflour to thicken it if absolutely necessary. I find that a roux cuts down on the flavor somewhat.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Unreasoner
I suppose, but cured bacon does some things regular pork butt would not. There is a reason most beef bourginon recipes call for bacon or pancetta.
I agree...I like to sometimes sear the meat in the bacon grease and just dump that in...dont even really need the bacon itself.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Taer
Also, Bay leaves. Everybody forgets bay leaves.
Agreed, stew just doesnt taste right without them. Also agreed on the adding of dark beer. That's a good way to go too.
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"We caught them in an alley on skid row in downtown Philly and brought them down with Uzi's and dogs. I beat the shit out of one of the guys for resisting arrest. After that, I went home, fried up some tofu with strawberry preserves and melon sticky rice, laid down on the couch with my snuggie and ate rose petals in sweet daisy wine sauce and watched Mamma Mia on DVD and then cried myself to sleep."

Theoryland: Just Some Crazy In A Pot

Last edited by Davian93; 11-08-2011 at 06:09 PM.
  #19  
Old 11-08-2011, 08:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ivhon View Post
Winter?
Hey, it's supposed to drop down to the 60s for two whole DAYS this week!

I may need to break out my parka!
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By: Steampunk Boba Fett
  #20  
Old 11-08-2011, 08:41 PM
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Crockpot pulled pork

Pork shoulder
Cayenne/Paprika, maybe some cumin, garlic, onion, salt

Braise for like 8 hrs in apple cider vinegar +tomatoes + a bit of BBQ sauce

remove, tear up, eat in corn tortillas.
 

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food!


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