Bourbon Heritage Month is nearing an end, but how can you go wrong on a blustery Oregon fall day with a nice thick beef stew. With nothing better to do with my time than craft this today in between laundry, shopping, reviewing electronics, beta testing and reporting on the results, and helping our daughter with her school work I decided to take the time and do this right.
You can take shortcuts with beef stew, browning the meat and throwing it in a crock pot all day, then coming back and thickening it with a corn starch slurry, but for a real down-home tastes-like-gramma's beef stew it takes time. I've had conversations with a few people about my theory on cooking lately, and I've noticed an appreciation for some of these old fashioned methods. If I'm going to feed it to my family and try and talk you folks into making it then it is worth time to do it right. My favorite way to serve this is to split a biscuit, butter it, then put it in the bottom of the bowl to catch all the awesome gravy.
With Bourbon, Beef, and Beer this is truly Fat Boy Heaven.
Bourbon, Beer and Beef Stew
- 1 1/2 ″ cube of salted pork fat (a.k.a. fatback)
- 2 lbs well marbled chuck
- 1 Tbs fresh ground black pepper
- 1 Tbs kosher salt
- 3 Tbs flour
- 2 small onions chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic smashed
- 1/4 C bourbon
- 1/2 can of beer (chug the other half)
- 2 C chicken or beef stock
- 1 Tbs tomato paste (or ketchup)
- 1 bay leaf
- 10 juniper berries
- 2 large potatoes cut into 1″ chunks
- 2 large carrots cut into 1″ chunks
- Cut the pork fat into 1/4″ cubes and add them to a large enameled cast iron pot. Put the pot over medium heat and let the fat render out. While that’s doing its thing, dry off any extra moisture on the beef. Toss the meat with the salt and pepper, then dust it with the flour, tossing to coat evenly.
- When most of the fat has rendered out of the pork, add 1 layer of beef to the pot. Let this fry for about 4-5 minutes or until you get a nice crispy brown coating on the beef. This brown stuff is where all the flavor is, so more brown = better. Flip and brown the other side. Transfer the cooked beef back to the plate your uncooked beef is on (don’t worry it’s all going to get cooked more later) and repeat with the rest of the beef.
- Add the onions and garlic to the pot and fry until soft and very brown (10-15 minutes). Again, brown = better. Turn up the heat to high and add the bourbon (you can light it with a match to satisfy the pyromaniac in you, but it’s not necessary). Add the beer and stock and bring to a boil. At this point you could skim off the fat and scum that floats up, but I didn’t have much, and it didn’t seem very manly to think about my waistline, so I let it be. Add the tomato paste, bay leaf and juniper berries and salt to taste. Partially cover with a lid and cook on low heat for 1 hour.
- Add the vegetable and continue cooking for about another hour or until the meat and vegetables are tender.