Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Beer Braised Beef and Onions

Stew meat is cheap. Why? Because it's usually a tougher cut of meat that takes a while to cook down and get to anywhere near tender. Even when cooked all day in a crock pot, it can sometimes still turn out a little tough. But Julia Child, genius that she was, knew how to turn these little morsels into tender pillows of HEAVEN! I had about 3 lbs of tenderized stew meat. The butcher had already tenderized them, but you could do this at home on your own with a good mallet. However, you don't need tenderized meat for this recipe, just regular old stew meat would do. Give yourself some time - about 3 hours in all - for this recipe, but delight, and yes, I said D-E-L-I-G-H-T at the wondrous concoction that you pull out of the oven. Delight, people.

Beer Braised Beef and Onions
3 lbs stew meat
3 large onions, sliced
4 cloves garlic, mushed
1 cup beef broth
2.5 - 3 cups beer (a lighter beer works best here, but a dark stout would work also)
2 tbs brown sugar (I up this a bit because of the aftertaste of beer that I'm not used to)
1 herb bouquet (thyme, rosemary, etc)
Olive Oil
Salt and pepper
1.5 tbs cornstarch
2 tbs wine vinegar

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

2. In a large dutch oven, cook the meat in batches in the oil until it is browned on all sides. Remove the meat and set aside. Add the onions (season to taste) and cook until browned, about 10 minutes. Add more oil to the onions, if necessary. Remove from the heat and add the garlic. Stir. Remove onions to a bowl.

3. In the dutch oven, layer one layer of beef, one layer of onions, then season with salt and pepper. Layer with the rest of the meat and the rest of the onions. Pour the beef broth over the top. Pour the beer over the top. Pour the brown sugar in. Tuck the herb bouquet into the meat and onions. Bring to a simmer on top of the stove. When simmering, put the lid on and put it in the lower third of the oven for 2.5 hours or until the meat is tender.

4. Remove from the oven. Throw the herb bouquet away. Remove the meat and onions to a dish, leaving the liquid in the dutch oven. Put the dutch oven over medium heat. In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and the vinegar and mix until combined. Pour into the liquid and stir and bring to a boil. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the meat and onions back in the liquid and mix thoroughly. Serve warm over buttered noodles or potatoes.

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