Beef Stew with Dried Mushrooms
Of course, you know how I am, I did adapt it. I used some of my slow roasted tomatoes from the freezer, but you could use canned tomatoes or sun-dried tomatoes with good results. I substituted dried Shitake mushrooms for the dried porcini the recipe called for because I had them. And I used *a lot* more mushrooms than Mark Bittman did because I have one of those huge bags of shitake mushrooms from Costco, and I love mushrooms.
Crockpots vary widely in their levels of heat, with the older ones (called slow cookers) cooking at a much lower temperature than the newer models. I cooked this in a newer model 2 1/2 quart Crockpot which cooks fairly hot, so keep that in mind if you’re using an older model. If you only have a large Crockpot, you’ll need to double the recipe. Mark Bittman cooked his stew on the stovetop, so I’m going to give those instructions along with the crockpot ones.
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2 cups beef stock, heated to boiling
2 cups dried shitake mushrooms, broken in pieces
(or less, as per your taste and budget)
1 large onion, chopped
2 lb beef chuck, all fat trimmed, cut into pieces about 1″ or slightly larger
1-2 T olive oil (depends on your pan)
1/2 cup water (use 1 cup for stovetop cooking)
1/2 cup slow roasted tomatoes, chopped
(If you don’t have roasted tomatoes, use 1/2 cup diced sun dried tomatoes or 1 can diced tomatoes. If using diced tomatoes for Crockpot version, drain tomatoes well, measure liquid and reduce the amount of stock by that amount.)
2 T tomato paste (I use a tube. If canned, just freeze the rest.)
3 dried bay leaves
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
Break dried mushrooms into 1″ pieces (this is easier than cutting them after you soak them.) Heat stock to point of boiling in saucepan, turn off heat, then add mushrooms and let them soak while you brown onions and meat.
In large heavy pan, heat 1 T olive oil, add chopped onion and saute about 5 minutes, until onions are softened but not browned. Put onions in crockpot or stockpot.
In same pan add rest of olive oil (if needed) and brown meat, turning with a fork so it browns well on all sides. (Don’t rush this step. It will take about 15 minutes to brown well.) Add meat to Crockpot or stockpot. Pour 1/2 cup water into hot pan, use a turner to scrape all browned bits off, and add liquid and meat bits to crockpot or stockpot.
Add tomatoes, tomato paste, mushrooms and beef stock, and bay leaves. For Crockpot, cook on low 5-6 hours, until meat is tender and flavors are well combined. For stovetop, simmer on low about 2 hours. You may need to add more water for stovetop. (Don’t be tempted to add more liquid to the Crockpot, even if it looks like it won’t be enough when you first put it in, as foods release liquid in a crockpot and I often end up wishing I had used less liquid, never more.) Season to taste with salt and fresh ground black pepper. (I did not add salt.) Serve hot.
South Beach Suggestions:
For phase one of the South Beach Diet, this would go well with Pureed Cauliflower with Garlic, Parmesan, and Goat Cheese, Georgette’s Greek Zucchini, or Roasted Broccoli with Garlic. For phase two or three, add something like Lake Powell Spicy Rice or Brown and Wild Rice with Pine Nuts and Thyme.