Almost a year after I first came up with this recipe for a spicy, super-aromatic beef stew and sent it to you from Paris, I made it again (I’m in Paris again), and, of course, I discovered a couple of new things in the process. I love that when I tweak something, I can share it with you. For me, being in touch with you like this is one of the joys of newslettering.
When I read through that old post (it’s below with the recipe), I realized that things are the same here now as they were then — at least they are weather-wise: One day, I get excited about the blooming forsythia, and the next day I’m walking around in my puffer. What’s not at all like last year is that blizzards are sweeping across America — the reports say that even Los Angeles will see snow! Pull out your Dutch oven, it’s time to stew. Again.
Go French // Go Big
When I told the butcher what I was making (he was surprised by the miso and soy and didn’t know anything about gochujang — I’m going to bring him some), he suggested a cut of beef that was new to me: chaînette. [NOTE: Many of you have written to ask what the equivalent cut is, and I haven’t been able to pinpoint it. What I know is that I’ve made the stew many times with different stewing cuts, and it’s always been delicious!] Then he cut exactly the amount I asked for (without weighing it along the way) and arranged it on the paper in a pretty rectangle. I was once told by an editor that showing pictures of raw ingredients is a waste of precious space (granted, she was talking about printed cookbooks), also usually not very attractive. It’s probably true that raw beef isn’t always alluring, but I’m showing it to you so that you can see how big each piece of meat is. French butchers generally cut stew meat into much larger cubes than many of us American are used to. I like the chunkier chunks.
Heat a Smidge, Then Smush
Don’t ask why I didn’t do this sooner, but at least I came to it. The marinade for the stew includes miso, gochujang, honey, soy sauce, ginger, garlic and red wine. It’s terrific, but finicky because miso isn’t an easy blend-in, gochujang can be recalcitrant and honey is sticky. This time around, I got them to drop their defenses by heating them just a smidge. I warmed the miso, gochujang and honey in a heatproof bowl over hot water — you could do this in a pan on the stovetop, just make sure the heat is really low. When everything was smooth and blended, I added the rest of the marinade. So much easier! And while we’re on the subject of raw beef, here’s the marinated meat draining before it’s cooked.
Michael is a fan of soft, falling apart (or off the bone) meat — a holdover from his mom’s super-tender brisket (and nope, I’ve never been able to recreate it) — and so, as I eyed the meat with skepticism, I asked the butcher if my stew would be tender. “Of course,” he said, “just cook it for 5 (!!!) hours.” And you know what? After five hours, the meat was incredibly tender. Michael said it was the best stew I’d ever made! My friends loved it, too. And so, while the original recipe says 2 1/2 to 3 hours, go longer if you’re a softy.
Noodles are my usual underpadding for the stew, but this week I went with mashed potatoes and they were lovely with the spicy broth. True confession: I bought a bag of potatoes that had been mixed with crème fraîche and butter and frozen in morsels. I heated them on the stovetop, seasoned them, spread them in a pan, popped them in the oven and baked them until they browned. I didn’t tell anyone that the spuds had come from Monoprix (my local supermarket), but that’s only because no one asked.
Stay warm. Stay cozy. Stew! And keep in touch. You can find me on Instagram and Facebook and, as always, you can leave comments on this post.
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I'd buy a pot, cookbook over a dress. I'd buy dishes over shoes. Loved ones round our table is preferred over the most sought after invitation in Washington, DC.
Hello Dorie. Thank you for the very prompt response. I feel I may have expressed myself poorly in that I didn't find it burdensome to do the internet search. To me that's part of the adventure of new or different foods / recipes.
I'm looking forward to what your butcher has to say.