Thursday, January 22, 2009

Psychedelic Freak Out - Braised Beef & Mushroom

So, for the past week I have been struggling with this horrific cold, which has only been exasperated and amplified by personal turmoil, cold weather, and poor general upkeep on my part. Anyway, I broke down and finally decided to go to the doctor and while sitting in the waiting room I picked up a copy of EatingWell Magazine. While flipping through the pages two recipes stuck my fancy: Braised Beef & Mushrooms and Ragout of Pork and Prunes (stay tuned for next Tuesday). Upon consulting with my eating mates Hilary and Steve, their general disdain towards prunes solved the crisis of which to cook, we went with the braised beef.
To accompany our stew we decided to watch Breakfast at Tiffany's. It was my first time watching it and my word is Audry Hepburn attractive!
I digress, onto the stew:

This was my first stew and I have to say I was more than pleased on how it came out I was concerned, at first, with the lack of liquid initially introduced the pot, but with the moisture in the meat and mushrooms a stock soon appeared, almost from nowhere!

The Recipe:
4 Cups finely diced onions
2 Large Cloves Garlic
2 Tbsp Tomato Paste
@ Tbsp Paprika
2 Tsp Fresh Marjoram
4 Lbs Beef Chuck in 1.5" cubes
2 Lbs Cremini Mushrooms
1 Cup Beef Broth
8 Large Shiitake Mushroom Caps
2-3 Tsp Dill or Tarragon for garnish

Firstly: Preheat your oven to 350°F
Heat some oil and butter in your Dutch Oven or large heavy casserole on the burner, make sure it is large because there are a lot of ingredients that have to fit in there. It was a little touch and go regarding whether or not it would all fit in there.
Toss in the Garlic and onions. Let them brown.
Note: We did not brown the beef first to seal in the juices, because we wanted it to really absorb the mushroom flavor.
Once your onions and garlic have softened up toss in the tomato paste, paprika and marjoram.
While that's keeping warm in the pot (lower heat so as not to dehydrate the paste)
Season your beef with a copious amount of pepper and a sprinkling of Kosher salt.
Add the beef and cremini mushrooms to the pot and stir it all together. This took some finesse since my pot looked closed to brimming over with mushrooms and meat, but I pulled it off. Cover your pot with a tight-fitting lid and bake until the beef is tender, figure a good 2 hours. The longer the better IMHO.
After you have sampled your broth and checked the tenderness of your beef add some salt and pepper to your own liking and stir in the shiitake mushrooms. Toss that pot back in and bake for another 15 minutes

Note: The reason for the post hoc addition of the shiitake is that when over-cooked, they get a bit rubbery which is no fun for the chef nor the consumer
Remove from oven and let stand, undisturbed, for 15 minutes (I over-eagerly skipped this step)
Next transfer the meat and mushrooms from the pot using a slotted spoon to a bowl. Return the pot to heat to reduce the broth until it coats a spoon.
I also added a little wine, which you can never go wrong with. Around 20-30 minutes of reduction I added the beef and mushrooms to the pot and gave it a good stir and simmer. I cooked some egg noodles to serve as a base for the stew to sit upon and also to add a little starch to the meal.
Finally garnish with some dill or tarragon, if desired.
In the end it was a well needed and well received assemblage of comfort food.
Some amendments I would consider to the original recipe would be to toss in some potatoes, carrots, and perhaps celery, but then again that would be a plain ol' stew and not Braised Beef & Mushrooms.
Regardless, it made me feel better and put me to bed faster than any prescription or substance in my repertoire.


  1. well documented. looks damn good. My favorite part of the whole process is checking out dumbo on your stove.

  2. PS I want to fucking bathe in that stew, it sounds delicious. If you were rich or lived in france you could add a bottle of bourgogne and let that whole thing reduce, but we can't get a decent 5-dollar bottle in these parts.