Mom's Camping Beef Stew—America's Test Kitchen Style
This variant uses higher quality meat, and skips the marinating step. This makes the meat much easier to sear, as it isn’t so sodden with orange juice, and the pieces are larger than what you get in stewing meat packages. It also includes more carrots and potatoes for a heartier stew.
Choose a chuck roast with lots of marbled fat in it. We get ours from Jacksons Meat and Deli at 4th and Yew, where they also have nice beef stock. I have also substituted veal stock for beef stock and that is very tasty.
- 2 to 2.5 pound chuck roast
- kosher salt
- 2 tbsp. oil (peanut, canola or other oil with a high smoke point)
- 1 white or yellow onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
- 2 anchovy fillets, minced, or 1 tsp of fish sauce
- 2 sprigs rosemary, or 1 tsp. dried rosemary
- 2 tsp. ground cumin
- zest of one orange
- juice of above orange, plus enough store-bought to make 10 fluid oz. (1 1/4 c) orange juice
- 14 oz. of canned crushed tomatoes
- 2 tbsp. tomato puree
- 2 c. good quality beef or veal stock
- 4 Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed or peeled, and cut into bite-sized chunks (1/2 inch to 1 inch chunks)
- 1 bunch carrots, peeled and roughly chunked
- 1 tbsp. mint, roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp. cilantro, roughly chopped (or just another tbsp of the mint)
- 1 ½ oz. (couple tablespoons) flaked almonds, toasted
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
Take a moment to study your roast. If you have big veins of fat in your meat, tear the chuck roast apart at that point with your hands. It should come apart pretty easily along the fat lines. Trim away excess fat and cut the meat into 1 1/2-inch cubes. Your goal is to remove the large areas of hard white fat and silver skin (the filmy tissue coating the meat), while keeping the soft inter-muscular marbling which will dissolve in the stew. Place onto a paper towel on a plate and cover with another paper towel. Pat dry. The drier the meat, the easier the sear. Salt the meat.
Give yourself a pat on the back. You just did some butchery and it was probably pretty gross!
Heat oil in the bottom of a Dutch oven, a stew pot, or a fry pan, at high heat. Sear meat until golden all over. Fry in batches, adding more oil if necessary to later batches. Do not crowd the pan. Reduce the heat if the oil starts to smoke or the fond begins to burn. Be patient and do not rush this step, which will take at least 20 minutes. During this period, you can chop the vegetables and prepare the rest of the ingredients. I find the best way to get a good sear is to wander off and do something else.
Remove the seared meat from the pan, admiring your delicious fond.
Turn pan down to medium, add onions and cook for 5 mins or until softened, scrapping up any brown bits. Add the garlic, anchovy or fish sauce, orange zest, cumin, and rosemary and cook a few minutes more until fragrant.
At this point, if you used a fry pan above, you will need to transfer everything into an oven-safe pot.
Add the meat and any juices from the plate to the pot. Add crushed tomatoes, tomato puree, orange juice, and beef stock. Scrap up any brown bits still left at the bottom of the pan. If meat is not completely submerged, add a little more beef stock. Keep in mind you will be adding the vegetables later so they will need to be covered too. Bring to a simmer and then transfer to the oven and cook for 1 hour.
After 1 hour, remove pot from oven. Stir in potatoes and carrots, cover, return to oven, and cook until meat and vegetables are both tender, about 1 1/4 hour more.
Sprinkle with mint, cilantro, almonds. Serve with rice or rustic bread if desired.
Cook time beginning to end: 3 to 3.5 hours.