Saturday, December 10, 2011

Japanese Beef Stew By What I Made For Dinner Squarespace

This is another recipe from the New York Times. My copy of it is old and stained, and does not show the author. Fortunately a law student friend of mine tells me copyright laws for recipes are very difficult to exercise and interpret.

Anyway, this is a great stew for an unseasonably warm autumn evening. It's not a heavy, stick-to-your-ribs stew. This supposedly serves four, but I think that would be in a multi-course meal. Since this was the main dish I served some rice on the side (Lane put some in his stew) and ended up with about three servings -- plus a few pieces for Jasper to play with and drown with a cup of milk.

1 1/2 pounds boneless chuck in 1-inch cubes
2 cups chicken stock, water, or dashi
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup mirin, honey, or sugar
10 nickel-size slices of ginger
salt and pepper to taste
1 lemon
1 1/2 pounds peeled butternut, pumpkin, or other squash cut into 1-inch cubes

[The coop never seems to have chuck, so I used "kebabs" -- very lean, so I browned them in a little oil. Dashi is a Japanese broth you can make by heating water with komba seaweed and bonito fish flakes. I used chicken broth. Mirin is rice wine vinegar, which I had on hand. I used the rest of the buttercup squash from yesterday. AV]

In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, sear meat until nicely browned on one side, about five minutes. Transfer chunks to a medium-size casserole.

Add stock to the skillet, and cook over high heat, stirring and scraping until all the solids are integrated into the liquid. Pour into the casserole with soy sauce, mirin, ginger and a couple of grindings of pepper. Peel lemon, and add peel to the mixture. Juice lemon.

cover and cook on top of stove (or in a 350-degree oven), maintaining a steady simmer. Stir every 30 minutes. Then check meat every 15 minutes.

When meat is tender, about 45 minutes, add squash and continue to cook until squash is tender, but not mushy. Add salt if necessary and then add lemon juice just before serving.

Me here again. So I tried an experiment this time by using only one pot -- the cast iron Dutch oven. I browned the meat (it browns better if you do it in batches of 5-6 pieces) and then added the broth right in. The lid doesn't shut tightly enough, so I did lose some fluid, but I just added some more chicken broth. I also cut the beef and the squash into 1/2-inch pieces, which cut down on the cooking time considerably. The beef needed only half an hour, and the squash ten minutes.

Directions for the lemon are a little tricky. I juiced the lemon first and then peeled the outermost layer with a knife. The pith (white part of peel) is bitter anyway. It doesn't harm the stew, but it's also not as essential as the yellow part.

As I'd mentioned, for those of you not in New York, today was exceptionally warm. Just a gorgeous, sunny day. We went to the park and played in the leaves. I can't believe I got to spend my morning with Jasper looking at crimson and ochre leaves against green grass under a clear blue sky. It was utter heaven.

For those of you in New York, check out the VU section of New York Magazine. Pay particular attention to the paintings in the 42-million-dollar townhouse article.


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