Sunday, November 8, 2009

Once upon a time there was... Stew and beer bread

Frequent readers will understand our passion for alcoholic beverages. I especially enjoy a good beer.

I also like to bake breads. And who doesn't love a good stew? So today we have created two beer-saturated meals,
Whole Wheat Beer Bread and Beef and Carrot Stew with Dark Beer (from Epicurious). It is important to note that when cooking multiple things in one kitchen, you should study the recipes side by side for any possible ingredient-chopping efficiencies, and to get the timing just right.

The recipes, and us, side by side.

When we thought about the timing for making the two together, it was as if someone had already done this. But unless they were a cow and a pig, we're not impressed. Yeast breads have a bit of rising time, so we start with the bread. For equipment, you need an approximately 9" x 4.25" greased loaf pan (ours wasn't quite the right size and it turned out great).


1 package active yeast

2 tbsp honey

10 oz warm beer (we used Rasputin Imperial Stout)

2 1/4 c whole wheat flour

1 1/2 c bread flour -- separated

1 1/2 tbsp butter -- melted

2 tsp salt

1 ea egg

1 tbsp water

1. Activate the yeast. Follow package directions, usually combining with hot water and some sugar.

Combine with whole wheat flour, 1 1/4 cup bread flour, and 2 teaspoons salt. Add butter and honey to warm beer and, with mixer running, pour beer into dry ingredients. As the dough forms swap paddle attachment for dough hook.

Knead for six minutes at medium speed. The dough should be slightly sticky but should clear the bowl. Add additional flour if needed. Dump dough onto a floured board and knead another minute or two until dough is fairly smooth (it won't be as smooth as a white bread) and resilient.

Allow to rest 5 to 10 minutes. (Good time to take a break yourself!)

5.Shape dough into a ball and place seam-side down in greased bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in bulk -- 60 to 90 minutes.

(Note: this is when we did most of the work on the stew, but I will continue with the rest of the bread recipe first. Cornelius gets confused when we talk about two recipes at once.)

6.Punch down dough and turn out onto floured board. Lightly knead dough and form into a flattened ball. Allow to rest five to 10 minutes.

7. S
hape dough into a rectangle that will fit in a 9" x 4.25" greased loaf pan. Cover and allow to rise until doubled in bulk. Heat oven to 425F.

In small bowl, beat together egg and water. Brush loaf or rolls with egg mixture and bake on middle oven rack. Ours was perfect in exactly 25 minutes, but of course, ovens vary.

Now, for the stew. As you might imagine, I don't eat beef, so Cornelius was in charge of this recipe.


2 tablespoons peanut oil

1 3-pound boneless beef chuck roast, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks

2 cups chopped onions

4 garlic cloves, smashed

4 teaspoons chopped fresh sage and/or rosemary (we had some fresh sage, but dried rosemary. It's all to taste)

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 tablespoons all purpose flour

1 12-ounce bottle dark beer (again, we used Rasputin Imperial Stout)

1 14-ounce can low-salt beef broth

1 pound baby carrots (use a bag)

Chef's tip: Cornelius and I recommend that for a recipe with a lot of ingredients requiring chopping, especially when you have other dishes that will need attention, get all the prep work done at once.

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat.

2. Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper. Working in batches, add to pot and sauté until browned, about 8 minutes per batch. Transfer to bowl.

3. Add onions, garlic, and herbs to pot; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium; sauté until onions begin to soften, about 5 minutes.

4. Add tomato paste and flour; stir 1 minute. Add beer; stir until thick and smooth, scraping up browned bits, about 2 minutes.

5. Add broth, then beef with any juices; bring to simmer.

6.Cover partially, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 45 minutes. Add carrots; simmer partially covered until beef and carrots are tender, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

The result of these two recipes is a delicious loaf of bread,

and what they tell me was a fantastic stew.

Cornelius says that when we make this again, we need to add more (maybe double) the liquid to the stew. Our stove tends to boil broth quite easily - plus it was on top of a baking loaf of bread - so we may have lost too much beer-y goodness on this attempt.

Other beers will substitute well in both recipes, but use something hearty. Moo!

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