Saturday, November 20, 2010

Cold Weather Stew and Chili

I just got off the phone with my friend Daniel, who was in the middle of frying bacon to make beef stew.  His recipe called for rendering the fat off the bacon and then frying the beef in it.  I asked for the recipe, which he has promised to send once he decides if he likes the way it turned out.  The obvious follow-up discussion was, of course, how much better everything tastes when it's fried in bacon fat.  As much as I try to make healthy foods for my family, there are times when nothing but cured pork will do.  I usually have a stash of country ham trimmings leftover from the Christmas ham in my freezer.  When that's gone, I move on to bacon.

I can't resist the lure of bacon, especially when it comes to using it as a flavor base for stew and chili.  Daniel said the best chili he's ever made came from an LA Times recipe entitled "Bowl of Red Chili".  The recipe serves 20 to 24, which seems like a lot, but when I mentioned that I bet it froze well, he said, "It did!" It's raining here and a perfect day to make chili.  But I don't want to leave the house.  When it stops raining, I will make a trip to the store and cook up a batch for another rainy day.
A rainy day at our house.  November 20, 2010.


  1. I just made my first attempt at Jansson's Frestelse (AKA Johnson's Temptation) which is a Swedish potato dish. Julienned potatoes, Swedish anchovies, onions, and cream. I used the mandolin to julienne the potatoes, but used the wrong cutter, so the potatoes came out like little strings or wavy potato chip style. I didn't think it would make much difference, but when the potatoes are that small, they discolor more quickly. So, the dish tastes okay, but the color on top isn't the most appealing. I still may just keep it to serve, because it's only to our sister usually cooks this, but she doesn't have time this year (we have early Christmas the weekend of Thanksgiving because our niece is here from VA!
    I'll be trying to make sylta after Thanksgiving dinner, so I'll let you know how that comes out!! It will be a learning experience for anyone who may be interested!! Sylta is the pressed meat the Swedes make with veal and pork!

  2. That sounds amazing and great for cold weather. I've never heard of a Swedish anchovy. What makes them different from regular anchovies? Send both recipes (and photos!) if you have a chance. I'm oh-so curious...

  3. Hi Susan,
    As promised, here is the stew recipe we discussed. I got the base recipe from Towns, Trails & Special Times: The Marlboro Country Cookbook. Amy gave me this book which you had to get with proof of purchase of numerous packs of Marlboro cigarettes. Amy doesn't smoke, so I am guessing she found a used copy. The recipe is on page 61 and it is called Beef and Beer Stew. I did not like that the meat is browned without dredging in flour, so I have altered the recipe slightly to suit my own tastes. Here it is.
    Four Slices of thick cut bacon
    4 pounds of beef stew meat
    1 cup flour
    1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
    1 tablespoon dried marjoram
    3 tablespoons paprika
    salt and black pepper
    3 onions sliced
    2 bottles of beer (I used Newcastle Ale)
    1 6-ounce can of tomato paste
    Worcestershire Sause
    4 potatoes cubed
    3 large carrots cut into thick slices

    Cook bacon in a large Dutch oven on the stove until crispy. Remove and reserve bacon.
    Mix flour, nutmeg, marjoram, paprika, salt and pepper in a plastic bag and toss the meat until well coated. You should cook the meat in two batches in the Dutch oven using the bacon grease, adding more as needed. The meat should be nicely browned on all sides. When browning the second batch, add leftover spiced flour to pot.
    Since the flour uses up all the bacon grease, you should scrape out the pot and reserve all the browned flour which will thicken the stew.
    Add more bacon grease to the pot and cook the sliced onions until tender. Deglaze the pot with a bottle of beer. Once all the browned flour is dissolved, add the other bottle of beer, the Worcestershire Sause and the tomato paste, making sure the paste dissolves. Return browned meat and bacon to pot and add enough water, 1-2 cups, to cover the meat. Stir well and bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook covered for 2 hours. Taste and add more spices or salt as needed. Add potatoes and carrots and cook covered at least another hour until everything is tender. Serve with really good bread. I like Semolina bread from Eagle Rock Italian Bakery.