Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Beer in the Kitchen: Beef Stew with Beer, Coffee, & Cinnamon

With the weather turning super-nice all of a sudden, I'm not sure people are going to be reaching for their Crock-Pots anytime soon. But this stew was a good way to use up the end of Number 14, a grass-fed steer from my friend Jessica's farmstead. Number 14, you were deeply appreciated. And delicious.

I tried to approximate a cinnamon-coffee-beer beef stew I had at the Memphis Farmers Market Harvest Celebration last fall. That one was much better, but this wasn't bad, as cheap at-home meals go.

Beef Stew with Beer, Coffee, and Cinnamon

Stew meat cut into 1-inch chunks - I'm not sure how much I used, as it was unlabeled. Maybe a pound?
1 tablespoon flour
A couple of tablespoons of a neutral oil (peanut, canola)
2 fat garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1 sweet potato (Dodson Farms), chopped
2 baby turnips (ditto), chopped
2 carrots, chopped
Bay leaf
1 stick cinnamon, broken in half
A couple pinches of dried oregano
A couple of whole peppercorns
1 12-oz bottle of a dark, roasty beer (I used Sierra Nevada Porter)
1 cup strong coffee
2 cups beef stock

Dry the meat well and place it in a bowl. Sprinkle it with the flour and stir it around a bit.

Heat a tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat in a heavy-bottomed pan or wok. Brown the meat on all sides. I would work in batches, depending on how big your pan is. You don't want to crowd the pan. Set the meat aside, but leave its delectable drippings in the pan.

Heat another tablespoon of oil over medium heat and add the garlic.

Let the garlic season the oil for a minute, then toss in the chopped vegetables. Vegetables that are the same size will cook more evenly.

Let the veggies cook for 2-4 minutes, until they are a little soft, then season them with salt, ground pepper, and oregano. Cook for a minute or two more.

Then transfer the vegetables to a Crock-Pot and place the meat on top.

Yum! As a newly-minted beer judge, I say this is an excellent representation of the robust porter style.

Cover the veggies+meat with the beer, coffee, and beef broth. Also add in your peppercorns, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, what have you. Go crazy and add other things if you want.

Set it to cook on low for 6-10 hours, then eat. It was pretty hearty. The beer and coffee made the beef super tender, and I liked the spice-sweet element from the cinnamon and peppercorns. Also, I had it on polenta, and polenta is my secret weapon for making everything 10X tastier.

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