Eye-rolling title aside, since launching into the world of meat stew a few weeks ago, we’ve continued to crave it, and have been experimenting with different recipes to satisfy that craving.
Mushroom Stew with Beef Chunks
Mark Bittman says that his recipe for mushroom stew with beef chunks can be easily adapted into a vegetarian dish by simply using more mushrooms, but since we had a package of beef stew meat left (our dwindling cow share stash), I thought it would be a good recipe to make and compare with our previous slow-roasted version.
This stew cooks up on the stovetop, for around an hour and a half. What sets it apart is the inclusion of dried mushrooms (we used porcini), and the soaking liquid. Our entire condo was perfumed with the scent of the mushrooms, which also had the effect of lightening the dish as well, as the broth was more liquid than paste).
The beef, as expected, wasn’t as tender as when cooked in the oven for a longer period of time, but it was still pretty tasty. Both of us agreed, though, that the best thing about the dish really was the broth. No stock/wine combination could outshine the aromatic porcini liquid, especially to have been made in that amount of time.
Mushroom stew with beef chunks
Stew is great not only for its comforting aspects, but is the perfect winter meal – nearly all the ingredients for a typical stew can be found at your local farmers’ market right now. For us, this means potatoes from Greens, Eggs and Ham, carrots from Riverbend Gardens, mushrooms from MoNa…and elk from Shooting Star Ranch.
I decided to give elk stew a try after talking to Christine from Shooting Star at the Alberta Avenue Farmers’ Market. She convinced me to try using sirloin meat, and had advised me on cooking it “low and slow” (low meaning 250F) for several hours.
Of course, being the overreaching cook that I am, I thought I would be able to make this stew on a weeknight. To compensate for the time, I jacked up the temperature somewhat (about 315 for the first hour, and 275 for the second).
I realized in hindsight that a high temperature wasn’t necessary – the elk was super lean, but more than that, the consistency of the meat reminded me of liver – supple and maroon in colour (interestingly enough, it tasted slightly of liver too – some pieces that I bit in to had a faint metallic tang). Needless to say, I think I cooked the living daylights out of the sirloin, so I definitely learned my lesson: follow the instructions!