Saturday, February 8, 2014

Bacon Beef Stew and Blue Skies

Don't let anyone ever tell you that bacon isn't good with everything. For realz its even good in desserts.

I finally made my first ever tasty soup from homemade stock. I've tried many times to make a broth base for soups and failed to produce anything that tastes better than watered down chicken flavor. I think the key was that I stopped trying to make a stock from just a single meat. Soup is used to get rid of leftovers for a reason! It seemed to taste a lot better when everything was just mixed together.

I don't remember exact quantities, but for posterity I'll record what I can. Because I will make this again. It was really good.

~8 hrs for broth, 1 additional hr for stew

For the Broth:
  • A few large pork rib and chicken bones. ( I used some from barbeque ribs the night before). If you don't have barbeque ribs to boil, use about a 1/2-1 tsp barbeque sauce to the flavor stock.
  • One piece uncooked smoked bacon (I bought some Benton's Bacon. Pretty sure that's what made my soup delicious)
  •  half an onion
  • 3 stalks celery
  • a few carrots
  • 2 cloves of minced garlic
  • as far as spices go I used some: allspice, turmeric, fresh thyme, fresh  rosemary, cumin, shichimi togarashi (probably wouldn't hurt to add some mustard seed and nutmeg. But I dunno didn't try it.) 
  • copious black pepper and some sea salt
I cooked the broth in my slow cooker for about 8 hours. Then I filtered the soup through a strainer, threw away the vegetables, put the bones back in the broth, and refrigerated it.

For the Stew:

  • 1/2- 1 lb beef sliced thin for stir-fry
  • one potato
  • four large carrots
  • quarter of an onion
  • handful of dried shitake
  • clove of garlic
  • soy sauce
  • red-wine vinegar
-Before making the stew filter the broth through a fine mesh sieve into a stew pot. Remove the bones. (The filtering will remove all of the fat that solidified on top from being in the fridge. Turn the eye on to get the broth boiling in the pot.)

I was tight on time so I precooked the stew ingredients:

-In a skillet over medium heat, warm up a little bit of bacon grease and toss the beef in some soy sauce and red-wine vinegar until just barely browned. Its ok if its not entirely cooked because the soup will cook it a bit more. Just don't dry it out.

-Toss the beef in the stew and add some more bacon grease, soy sauce and red-wine vinegar. Cook the vegetables and garlic over medium high heat until just browned. Again its ok if they aren't entirely cooked throughout.
(It might also be necessary to cook the vinegar so it is not overpowering. But again I'm not sure because I am awful at making soup)

-Toss them into the pot as well and lower heat to a simmer. Simmer for another hour or so.
When vegetables are tender remove from heat and add a handful of dried mushrooms. They will swell to be twice and big as their dried size. Don't pre-soak them either, just directly add them. Salt and pepper to taste.

The sweet smoky flavor of the bacon and barbeque really made this stew taste delicious. I drank it up. Literally. Which was probably because I used chop sticks to eat with.
Makes approximately 4-5 servings.

We've also been having some lovely weather and the birds seem to love it :) How many can you count? I found ten.