I love stews. I really do. However, many times in the past I would not make a stew because I disliked the initial stages of the stew process; dusting the cubes with flour and then browning them in batches in hot oil in a fry pan. Invariably more oil or butter would be needed to brown the next batch, the stove would become a mess from all the splattering, the fire alarm would go off, and Stormy our cat would dash up the stairs to hide under the bed. If I was lucky, my husband was not sleeping on the couch with Stormy in his lap. Otherwise he too would be yelping and dashing around because of the cat; Stormy has claws. 🙁 I would be rushing around opening the doors of the house and frantically waving a dish towel over my head under the fire alarm to try to get it to stop wailing.
I kid you not! (Sounds like a cartoon story… almost.) That has happened a number of times until I put stop to it. No, not a stop to making stews, a stop to following stew recipe instructions on how to brown the meat.
Now I end up with a cleaner kitchen, no chaos, and nicely browned meat in uniform cubes. What I have given up is deglazing the pan of all the browned residue, yet I gain lots of flavor from the roasted grill marks on the meat. I also end up using 1/2 to 2/3 less fat than the original recipe calls for. 😀
Did that part about uniform cubes get your attention? I thought so. I don’t buy stewing beef. I buy roasts or thick-cut steaks on sale. (Quite often I can get the same or better quality of meat at a comparable price to the stew meat.)
For example, we do a yearly winter party and the star of the event is our Chipotle Beef & Pork Chili. Here are the steps I go through to get (in my eyes) perfect beef and pork cubes ready for a stew.
See the Notes section at the bottom of the recipe for the pork instructions.
I have described the more efficient manner that I use in the Instructions section below. If you prefer the cubes to be browned on 4 sides (instead of 2), the total cooking time remains relatively the same with the following modification).
• For the beef, rotate the beef 90 Degrees every 2 minutes; this totals 8 minutes for the 4 sides.
• For the pork, rotate the pork 90 Degrees every 3 minutes; this totals 12 minutes for the 4 sides.
- good quality beef roast(s)
- Take out the beef in advance and allow it to come to room temperature. (Preferable, but not a show stopper if you forget to do this step.)
- Turn on the barbeque and set it to come to High temperature (same temperature as you cook a steak at). This will take 10-20 minutes depending on your barbecue.
- With a very sharp kitchen knife cut the roast into 1 inch (2.54 cm) steaks.
- Next cut the steaks into 1 inch (2.54 cm) strips.
- When the barbeque is at the correct temperature, lay the strips flat in a diagonal manner to get good contact with the grills to end up with nice grill marks.
- Close the lid of the barbecue.
- Let the beef brown for 4 minutes.
- Lift the lid of the barbecue, flip beef strips over onto the opposite side, close the lid, and brown for an additional 4 minutes.
- Lift the lid of the barbecue,remove the beef strips from the barbecue, place into a large heat resistant bowl or plate, and let rest for 2-3 minutes. The beef at this point will be medium to medium-rare.
- Cut the strips into 1 inch (2.54 cm) cubes and make sure to keep all the juice from the beef strips and cubes.
- Put beef cubes and any juices into stew as directed.
• I normally use pork tenderloins (removing the tough silvery membrane), however, pork roasts work just as well.
• Leave the pork in the refrigerator until ready to cut.
• Cook at Medium-High temperature.
• Increase cooking time for pork to 5-6 minutes on each side.
• For pork you are looking to have it just cooked for the stew. Pink in the inside is fine. Raw is not acceptable. If you get overcooked desert pork, well, 😉 I can't help you.