Saturday, January 30, 2010


I've never made stew on my own before, though I have watched and helped my mom make it at home. I remember it was very easy to make, but vaguely remembered what she added. If you're a fan of our site, you know that we don't really have family recipes. Everything is mostly done by touch, feel and smell. And as I've done in the past, I'll be writing down my "recipe" of this... stew.


I was looking through some online grocery store flyers yesterday and noticed I could make beef stew with some of the items that were on sale. It has been cold lately in Toronto.. err.. Etobicoke (sorry Torontonians), and I figured a nice warm stew would be perfect comfort food. So I went shopping this morning and now I'm stocked up and ready to go.

I prepared my stew while watching the entertaining Sens vs Habs game...

First off, my mise en place:
I peeled and diced some potatoes, onions and then chopped up some baby carrots - all while watching the Sens vs Habs game.

I put a pot on the stove, cranked it to high heat and then sautéed the onions with a bit of oil. I accidently threw it all in and didn't feel like taking half of the amount out, so I didn't stir the onions for about 5 minutes at a time. This helps develop brown bits at the bottom of the pot. Once half of the onions had some colour to them, I took them out of the pot and placed them onto a plate.

My beef was already cut, so I didn't need to do anything to them. I threw in the beef and a bit of oil, to the same pot, to brown. After the beef finished browning, I took out the beef and threw the half-sautéed onions back in to finish up. I also tossed in a few bay leaves. I'm not sure if that brings out the flavour out, but I did it anyway. Just before the onions were done, I added half a can of tomato paste (that I had some leftover in the fridge) and cooked it out a bit.

While the sautéed onion-bay leaf-tomato paste mixture was cooking on medium-high heat, I brought my veggies over to the stove. It looked like I prepared a bit too much onion, potato and carrots for the pot I was using, so I brought out a larger pot and my browned beef. After about 5 minutes, I took the mixture in the smaller pot and mixed it with the beef. There was some brown bits left behind, so I added a bit of water, scraped the pot and then added the liquid to the larger pot.

I threw in all the chopped up veggies (though I shouldn't have) into the pot with everything else, with enough water to fill the pot. I brought the pot to a boil for a minute and then turned it down to a gentle simmer. I then tossed in some pearl barley and tiny alphabet pasta, cause that's how my mom made hers when we were younger.

I made sure to stir the pot once every 5 minutes (again with that number.. hahaa!). I was paranoid of letting the bottom burn, as the last time I had stew was last Christmas break when the stew went unattended for over 10 minutes... and... well, burnt. The whole thing was ruined, which is too bad, because it tasted so good!

The pot gently simmered on the stove and was attended to for about 2 hours. The soup/broth didn't have a lot of flavour so salt, pepper, chicken and beef stock mix was added. During that time, I realized that the ratio of the soup was waaay off. I had way too much alphabet pasta and not enough soup/broth. Bah!

This is what the pot looks like when I lifted the ladle.

Yeah... so I took out probably a quarter of the pasta, veggies, and barley and replaced it with more water. The ratio was a lot better. Now I wanted to freeze some of the soup, so I took some out then. After putting some portions in some containers, brought the pot to a boil. I then added a mixture of flour and water to thicken the soup to a broth. I tasted the stew again and felt it needed more flavour. Beef and chicken stock powder (not the radioactive yellow stuff) was sprinkled into the pot, but I was a bit heavy handed - unfortunately. My stew didn't taste like any stew that I liked, but something rather fake. I mean, it looked and smelt like stew, but it just wasn't... good. The chunks of beef wasn't fall-apart-tender, the pasta was over done, and the whole stew just didn't taste complete. I couldn't taste the bay leaves, even though I added 7 leaves (which I felt was too much, at the time), but the whole process to making the soup, from start to finish, was about 3 hours. I guess that's the reason my stew fell short in natural flavour.

The lesson of this entry: shortcuts (I'm referring to the beef and chicken stock powder) may seem like a good idea, but you'll regret it later. Take your time when making soups!

Next time... I'll be sure to add half of the amount of alphabet pasta (and add it closer to the end of the process), add more beef, don't use beef and chicken stock next time, but rather simmer the bay leaves with the beef for at least 2 hours. Actually, I just have to be patient with the soup and not rush it. I don't even know what the rush was. I didn't mean to eat stew for dinner, but while making it, I just couldn't help but have it for dinner.

I'm so disappointed that my stew didn't turn out right. It's just embarrassing.

I've learned my lesson.


No comments:

Post a Comment

We'd love to hear your thoughts!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...