Basic beef stew

Okay, I have an urge to write, and to put content out there that’s not strictly related to the current situation, so let’s do that. This is not going to be a fancy blog post with amazing pictures (I shot these with my phone and under crap lights) and a precise recipe, just some stream-of-consciousness narrative on how to get a hard-to-mess-up-completely beef stew. If you want the high-effort, but actually worth it, version, there’s one here: Bœuf bourguignon.


Get some stew beef – typically the cheap cuts, that may be more or less tough and have more or less fat/weird parts. For this round I got one piece of « meager stew beef » (which would be tougher without the long cooking) and one piece of « mixed stew beef » – which is typically fattier and has more squishy parts. Cut it in large cubes (okay, some kind of approximately 6-faced polyhedrons) – I like something along the lines of 3-5cm side, I think. Try to keep them roughly equal, but don’t fret.

Get your largest pot – mine happens to be my cast iron dutch oven, and there’s something very satisfying in cooking anything in that, but any pot ends up working – this dutch oven is a fairly recent addition to my cookware, but I’ve been making stew for as long as I’ve had my own kitchen. Put some fat at the bottom – oil, butter, lard, whatever floats your boat, and brown all the pieces of meat. You probably want to do several batches, in order to not crowd the pot – I had roughly 2kg of meat and it took me 4 batches. You might want to dust the meat with flour – it tends to brown better, and it eventually helps with the thickness of the sauce, but it also tends to stick more to the bottom of the pan, which makes it a bit more stressful. I couldn’t decide between putting flour or not putting flour, so I put just a little, which meant that my meat was stickier to the bottom of the pan and the sauce didn’t really thicken. Win-win.


Once all the meat is browned, you may want to add a bit more fat to the pan if it’s all out, and then throw in a few onions. Add some bacon too, because bacon makes everything better.


Throw in some mushrooms while you’re at it. You could also add a carrot or two there – always a popular choice.


Let everything in there soften and brown for a bit. Then add back the beef.


Stir everything together, and that’s when you can add liquid. I started with a cup of chicken broth that was in my freezer (I made broth two months ago, and I’m very happy I did). Don’t worry if you don’t have any – it’s probably helping for the overall taste, but it’s not critical. You can also add (on top of or instead of) herbs, typically a bouquet garni, or whatever aromatics you think would work (thyme, laurel, rosemary, garlic – all of these would probably work).

Once you have a bit of liquid in the pot, scratch the bottom of the pot with a spatula – should help liberate all the tasty bits that gathered in there while browning everything (and have them in the final sauce).


Open a bottle of red wine and check that it is appropriate. Rule of thumb: don’t cook with something you wouldn’t drink. First of all, it’s going to be less tasty; second of all, if you have some left, you’re going to drink it anyway with the meal, soooo.


The second point was not much of an issue for me, because I ended up needing the whole bottle in there. Cover the content of the pot with liquid – if you don’t have enough red wine, add some more broth or water. Bring to a boil.


Once it’s boiling, reduce the heat below, add a lid to the pot, and let it simmer for a couple of hours (or more). Double check at the beginning of the cooking that it’s not boiling too heavily (since there’s a lid on, this typically happens at lower heat on the stove!), and let it be for a while.


A few hours later, you have a very tasty dinner, and probably a fair amount of leftovers (unless you’re cooking for 10+ people). If you’d like a thicker sauce (the one I had was fairly thin, you can strain everything out of it and reduce it on high heat for a while. I was definitely too lazy (and it was getting late) to do that yesterday.

Once cooled down, transfer to freeze-ready containers, add a label on it, and stick them in the freezer for a later day.

Don’t be me when doing that: I tried to spare time by tipping the pot over my containers to get some sauce in it, and I ended up having to clean a sauce flooding in my kitchen, that was annoying.

More annoying even is that on that evening I ended up having to clean a SECOND flood in my kitchen. When I went to put my stew boxes in the freezer, I realized that one of my chicken broth bags had leaked – it was probably not sealed correctly 😦 Hence, more mess to clean. So I picked the drawer, emptied it and put it in the sink to clean it. At some point I went « WAIT, WHAT, WHERE IS ALL THAT WATER COMING FROM?? » – turns out, my freezer drawer are not watertight (the facade is clipped on them). Which means: second kitchen flooding in one evening.

But at least I have tasty stew for comfort 😀

Curry de bœuf / Beef curry

English version interleaved in italics

J’ai, en termes de photos (prises, à défaut d’éditées), de quoi écrire 3 billets ici, et je n’en ai pas encore écrit un seul – rectifions donc cela immédiatement. J’ai invité des amis il y a quinze jours pour un combo « déjeuner et Scythe » (Scythe est un jeu qui a fait pas mal de bruit à sa sortie mais auquel on n’avait pas encore joué), et à cette occasion j’ai re-plongé dans mon The Food of India – parce que finalement le concept de curry qui mijote c’est plutôt un bon plan quand on reçoit. Après pas mal d’hésitation, j’ai fini par choisir la recette de « Goan Beef Curry » – curry de bœuf de Goa, donc, que j’ai servi avec du « riz » de chou-fleur.

I have enough, photo-wise (well, taken, if not edited yet), to write 3 posts here, and I didn’t write a single one yet – so let’s fix that now. I invited friends two weeks ago for a « lunch and Scythe » combo (Scythe is a board game that’s been fairly hyped when it came out, but which we hadn’t played yet) and, for that occasion, I went back to my  The Food of India – because, well, the concept of simmering curry is pretty neat when you have people over. After some pondering, I finally chose the « Goan Beef Curry » recipe, that I served with cauliflower « rice ».


La recette elle-même n’est pas très compliquée, mais la liste d’ingrédients peut intimider.

The recipe itself isn’t that complicated, but the list of ingredients can seem daunting.

Pour 6 personnes / For 6 people

  • les graines de 8 gousses de cardamome / the seeds from 8 cardamom pods
  • 1 teaspoon de grains de fenouil / 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 8 clous de girofle / 8 cloves
  • un bâton de cannelle de 10cm / a 10-cm cinnamon stick
  • ½ teaspoon de graines de fenugrec, que j’ai remplacées par un peu plus de fenouil et de cumin, à défaut / ½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds, which I replaced by a bit more fennel and cumin
  • ½ teaspoon de poivre noir moulu / ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 teaspoons de graines de coriandre / 3 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 3 teaspoons de graines de cumin / 3 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 125 mL d’huile / 125 mL oil
  • 2 oignons / 2 oignons
  • 6 gousses d’ail / 6 garlic cloves
  • un morceau de 10cm de gingembre / 10cm of ginger
  • 1kg de bœuf à braiser, découpé en cubes de 2.5cm / 1kg stewing beef, cut into 2.5cm cubes
  • ½ teaspoon de curcuma / ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons de piment en poudre / 2 teaspoons powdered chili
  • 310mL de lait de coco / 310 mL coconut milk


Je ne résiste pas à montrer le contenu du mortier de plus près.

I can’t resist showing the content of my mortar from up close.


Mortier qui a d’ailleurs bien travaillé : la première étape est de réduire en poudre toutes les épices qui ne le sont pas encore (toutes sauf le poivre, le curcuma et le piment, donc). J’avoue que ma poudre pourrait être plus fine ; il arrive un moment où on décide que c’est suffisant 😉

That mortar was put to great use: the first step is to reduce to powder all the spices that aren’t yet (all of them except the pepper, turmeric and chili). I must admit my powder could be finer: at some point you have to decide it’s good enough 😉


Découper l’oignon et l’ail en petits dés, râper le gingembre.

Dice the onion and garlic, grate the ginger.


Faire chauffer l’huile dans une casserole épaisse et y faire revenir à feu moyen l’oignon, le gingembre et l’ail jusqu’à ce qu’ils commencent à dorer.

Heat the oil in a heavy pan and fry the onion, ginger and garlic over medium heat until they start to brown.


Ajouter la viande, et faire dorer de tous les côtés.

Add the meat, brown it on all sides.


Lorsque la viande est dorée, ajouter toutes les épices (celles du mortier, le poivre, le curcuma et le piment), et laisser dorer pendant une minute.

When the meat is browned, add all the spices (the ones in the mortar, the pepper, the turmeric, and the chili), and let it brown for another minute.


Ajouter le lait de coco, réduire la puissance du feu et laisser mijoter pendant une bonne heure.

Add the coconut milk, reduce the heat and let it simmer for an hour or more.


Pour le riz de chou-fleur, c’est un truc que je fais beaucoup plus souvent, alors la recette est forcément un peu plus floue, parce que c’est de l’automatique 😉 On s’y prend 30-45 minutes avant de manger, et il faut, heu, du chou-fleur (je compte ~300g par personne, cru), un corps gras quelconque (j’utilise de l’huile de coco), éventuellement un oignon ou deux, et ce qui passe par la tête pour épicer (cette fois c’était du cumin je crois).

The cauliflower rice is something I cook way more often, so the recipe is somewhat more vague, because it’s so automatic 😉 Start 30-45 minutes before eating and you’ll need, err, cauliflower (I count ~300g per person, uncooked), some fat (I use coconut oil), optionally an onion or two, and whatever strikes your fancy in terms of seasoning (I think that time it was some cumin.)

Faire revenir les oignons coupés en morceaux dans l’huile de coco.

Fry the diced onions in some coconut oil.


Passer le chou-fleur au robot – suivant la lame utilisées, ça ressemble plus à, au choix, du riz, de la semoule, ou parfois à des mini-pâtes 😉

Shred the cauliflower in a food processor – depending on the disk you use, it looks more like rice, couscous, or sometimes small pasta 😉


Faire cuire le chou-fleur à feu doux-moyen – d’abord avec un couvercle le temps que le chou-fleur cuise à peu près, puis retirer le couvercle pour la fin de la cuisson pour l' »assécher ». Ajouter sel, poivre, épices suivant l’inspiration et l’accompagnement.

Cook the cauliflower on medium heat – first with a lid on so that the cauliflower gets somewhat soft, then remove the lid for the end of the cooking so that it dries off a bit. Add salt, pepper and spices depending on the mood and what you’re serving it with.


Quand le chou-fleur est cuit, servir et manger 🙂

When the cauliflower is cooked, serve and eat 🙂


Verdict : c’était pas mal, mais je crois que le bœuf aurait mérité d’être cuit plus longtemps. Mon piment était ptêt un peu violent aussi, ça avait un peu tendance à écraser le reste. Mais tout le monde s’est resservi, alors… 😉

Verdict: it was okay, but I think the beef could have benefited from a somewhat longer cooking. The chili was maybe a bit overpowering too. But then everybody went for seconds, so… 🙂

Tags : curry, bœuf, inde, chou-fleur

Daring Cooks : Papas Rellenas

english version interleaved in italics

Chaque fois que je pense au Pérou, je pense à mon amie Sandrine qui est partie en voyage de noces là-bas et qui en était revenue enchantée – y compris pour la nourriture 🙂 C’est donc avec un certain enthousiasme que j’ai vu arriver le texte du challenge Daring Cooks de ce mois-ci qui proposait deux recettes péruviennes : le célèbre ceviche (que je n’ai d’ailleurs jamais goûté) et des « papas rellenas » ou pommes de terre fourrées. Malheureusement, le poisson n’est pas la grande force de la Suisse, d’autant plus que je suis extrêmement difficile sur le poisson, encore plus quand il est cru. Je me suis donc cantonnée à la seconde recette – mais on va en Californie dans quelques semaines, où il est plutôt facile de trouver de l’excellent poisson : peut-être que j’en profiterai pour tenter le ceviche !

Bon, pour être honnête, je n’avais jamais entendu parler des papas rellenas avant le challenge. Par contre, j’avais posté une photo sur Flickr au moment où je les avais faites, et Sandrine m’avait dit « Oh, des papas ! C’est bon ça ! Tu vas poster la recette sur o< cuisine ? ». Donc, oui, puisque c’est un challenge DC, mais seulement maintenant, puisque c’est un challenge DC :o)

Il s’agit en fait d’une farce, ici à base de bœuf, enfermée dans une couche de purée de pommes de terres. Le tout est passé à la chapelure, puis frit. Je dois dire que la Daring Kitchen a fait beaucoup pour me donner moins peur de ma friteuse. C’est vrai que c’est un peu impressionnant cet énorme bain d’huile bouillante. Entre l’image d’Épinal de l’huile bouillante renversée sur les assaillants de châteaux forts et les histoires terrifiantes de friteuse qui prend feu, il faut dire que l’imaginaire collectif n’aide pas vraiment. Mais, bon, depuis les doughnuts et le tempura, ma foi, j’ai pris un peu confiance en ce que je faisais et en ma friteuse. Ce qui n’empêche pas de faire attention : ça reste de l’huile bouillante !

Voici en tous cas le texte de présentation du challenge : Kathlyn de Bake Like a Ninja était l’hôtesse du challenge Daring Cooks de mars. Kathlyn a choisi deux plats péruviens classiques : le ceviche de pescado, tiré de Peruvian Cooking – Basic Recipes d’Annik Franco Barreau, et des papas rellenas, adaptées d’une recette maison du professeur d’espagnol de Kathlyn, Mayra. Le texte du challenge est disponible sur le site de la Daring Kitchen, en anglais : ¡Me Encanta Perú! – Ceviche and Papas Rellenas.

Everytime I think about Peru, I think about my friend Sandrine, who spent her honeymoon there and was delighted with it – including with food 🙂 So I was pretty enthusiastic when I saw the Daring Cooks challenge for this month with two peruvian recipes: the famous ceviche (which I never had, by the way), and « papas rellenas », or stuffed potatoes. Unfortunately, fish is not a strong point of Switzerland, all the more so since I’m pretty picky when it comes to fish, especially when it’s raw. So I confined myself to the second recipe – but then, we’re going in California in a few weeks: it’s easier there to find awesome fish, maybe I’ll try the ceviche there!

To be completely honest, I hadn’t heard of papas rellenas before the challenge. But I posted a picture on Flickr when I made them, and Sandrine told me « Oh, papas! Those are tasty! Are you going to post the recipe on o< cuisine? ». So, yes, since it’s a DC challenge, but only now, since it’s a DC challenge :o)

Papas are made of a filling, here beef-based, encased in a layer of mashed potatoes. They are then coated with breadcrumbs and deep fried. I must say that the Daring Kitchen helped a lot in relieving me of my deep-frier fear. This huge boiling oil bath sure is intimidating. Between the popular imagery of boiling oil poured over castle assailants and the terrifying stories of deep-friers on fire, collective imagination really doesn’t help. But since the doughnuts and tempura challenges, I’m a bit more confident in my abilities and in my deep-frier. Doesn’t mean I’m not careful anymore: it’s still boiling oil!

Anyway, here is the challenge presentation text: Kathlyn of Bake Like a Ninja was our Daring Cooks’ March 2011 hostess. Kathlyn challenges us to make two classic Peruvian dishes: Ceviche de Pescado from “Peruvian Cooking – Basic Recipes” by Annik Franco Barreau. And Papas Rellenas adapted from a home recipe by Kathlyn’s Spanish teacher, Mayra. The challenge text is available on Daring Kitchen website: ¡Me Encanta Perú! – Ceviche and Papas Rellenas.

Lire la suite

Recipes to Rival : Bœuf bourguignon

Le challenge Recipes to Rival de septembre fait écho au film Julie & Julia (excellent film par ailleurs, je recommande) et Heather nous a proposé la recette de bœuf bourguignon du Mastering French Cooking de Julia Child.

The September Recipes to Rival challenge echoes to the movie Julie & Julia (an excellent movie, BTW, I recommand it), and Heather chose the bœuf bourguignon of the Mastering French Cooking from Julia Child.

Lire la suite