Sunday, December 14, 2008

Eh Brah, What? You Like Beef?

Beef Stew

You like beef!?!?!?!? Not exactly asking for your preference of protein. For anyone who grew up speaking pidgin like I did, them's fight'n words.

Give "stink eye" to the wrong kid, cut in the lunch line, pick on the kid brother of the class "moke" and you'll get threatened, "You like beef!?!?!?!" At this point, your options are few. Put'em up and stand your ground, talk your way out of the altercation with a, "Nah, only joking brah!" or practice the ancient art of "run-ate" (like karate, only it involves running away like a little girl) risking ridicule and persecution for days, even weeks to come.

Luckily, since I've long graduated from the elementary school playground, the only context I use, or hear those words in, is food related. "You like beef... stew?" Now that's a question I welcome hearing and the answer is a resounding "Yes!"

Beef stew is one of those comfort foods that we always turn to especially on the weekends when we have the time to allow it to simmer all afternoon. I start out by seasoning and browning up some stewing meat. Once nice and carmelized, I add a chopped onion or two, some chopped celery and maybe some minced garlic or garlic powder and let it continue to brown. After a nice crust begins to develop, in goes a can of diced tomatoes, a can of tomato sauce, perhaps a bayleaf or two and enough beef broth to cover. The lid goes on and the heat is reduced and everything is allowed to simmer for a couple of hours. If the meat happens to be really lean, it takes a little more time to soften but if I'm using shortribs or a more marbled cut, it gets tender quite quickly. The broth reduces and the beefiness intensifies. If it needs it, I'll add some Maggi seasoning, or maybe a bullion cube along the way, carefully tasting it to make sure it doesn't get over seasoned in the process. Before the beef reaches the point of falling apart, I add potatoes and carrots and another chopped onion because at this point, the onions I started out with have all melted. I then allow it to cook for another half hour or so. This time around, green beans made their way into the pot. I've only started doing this recently if I have some that need to be used because I like the color and texture they add to the finished stew. At this point you can thicken it with a little cornstarch mixed in cold water or just have it unthickened, Hawaiian style. Ain't nutin as nice as beef stew an rice

What about you? You like beef or what?!?!?!