How to Make a Stew Base

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Every delicious stew starts out with a well made base. Make a stew base with help from a chef instructor and executive pastry chef in this free video clip.

Part of the Video Series: Preparing Stews: Tips & Tricks
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Tony Hedger from L'Ecole Culinaire in Saint Louis, Missouri. Today, we're going to be talking about building a base for beef stew. Very, very important, I know we all know the Dentie Moore brand of beef stews and it could be more flavorless. You can make your beef stew with the utmost flavor by just following a few simple guidelines. This is a beef chuck. And this we don't know where it comes from. This is what you find classified as stew meat in your super market. It's just basically scraps from different parts of the cow. Could come off the rib, could come off the round, who knows. This was a nice cross cut section of the shoulder clad muscle of the chuck which is the front shoulder of the cow. Some of this may be not so tender, others may be very tender parts of these. Very familiar with this cut as far as pot roast. Today with the beef stew we're going to start building our flavors. OK so we're going to take that chuck out a little bit and we're going to cut a couple pieces off. I'm going to cut two of those muscles. I'm going to pull that off there. I'm going to kind of just cut the muscles apart a little bit, following the natural separation. OK. Look there. Very important to have a nice, sharp knife. It's also important if you cut yourself that it's a nice clean cut. OK so we want to make sure all the self containeous fat is off of there. OK. I don't like fat in my beef stew and I'm sure you don't either. Just don't get your fingers in the way like I do. There we go. That's not going to be pleasant to eat. OK. Now the thing about a beef stew is we want to make sure that we also have it in good, bite sized pieces, OK. One thing that makes beef stew tender is always cutting across the grain as well. So we want to make sure that we have nice, small cuts but we don't have long, thin strands of muscle fibers that we have to eat through too. That's kind of what makes meat stringy. OK so we're going to go ahead and throw that in our bowl. We'll get rid of that. Cut that across the grain. I'm sure you've heard that before. And we're going to throw that. I've got a little piece of connective tissue I need to get rid of. There we go. Just set that to the side. There we go. Next thing we need to do is season. OK. Remember we can season later as well so we don't want to put too much on there. And of course flour. Flour is going to facilitate that browning process plus later on in our dish, it's going to help us thicken it up a little bit. Going to put a little oil in our pan. We should hear a good sizzle when we throw it in. I hear it already. There we go. We got that good sizzle going. Now what we want to make sure is when we're cutting we want to make sure that everything is cut apart. I think I just missed one right there. We want to make sure that everything is pretty much the same size. OK. We want to make sure that we get that good caramelization. The proteins, the sugars in the proteins are what's going to help your meat caramelize. OK. Want to make sure we brown pretty much on all sides. This will also help keep your meat tender while it's cooking. Looking good. Want to make sure that we brown all sides but we don't really have to cook it all the way. It's not important that we cook it all the way because remember, it's going to be on the stove for an hour, two hours, however long you decide that you want to cook your beef stew. OK. So we've got that browned. We're going to go ahead and throw that in to our sauce pan. This is where we're going to start building the beef stew. Today we're just building the base as it is. OK. I still have some of that fond in there. That's those nice little bits that are on the bottom of the pan. So I'm going to start throwing a little bit of onion in there. Little bit of celery. I like celery. And remember, with beef stew you can put in whatever you like. Carrots. And we'll actually brown these potatoes off a little bit too. Now the thing that you have to remember is you have a little bit of oil in here so you want to make sure you come away with these potatoes in water and dry them a little bit before you throw them in there. OK. If not you'll get a nasty burn. OK. Also at this point I'm going to go ahead and throw in my thyme. And a bay leaf. Going to add flavor. We're just going to sautee that real quick. I'm going to hit that with a little bit of stock. That's going to help pull out some of those beef bits on the bottom of the pan. There we go. We're not looking to cook and we're just wanting to get some of that flavor transferred from that pan to the vegetables. All right. We don't want to burn anything. If you have onions or garlic or something like that, it tends to overcook or burn, it will get bitter on you. So you have to be very, very careful of that. Now that we've done that, we're going to go ahead and we're going to toss our vegetables in with the beef. And we're going to warm up that stock real quick. Just a real quick hit on that stock. OK. Because we want to bring that stock up to a good temperature so that we don't slow down the cooking process that we've just taken care of in building all this flavor. OK. Anything that's still connected to the pan we can go ahead and bring it off. Once we start seeing it bubbles will start to form on our pan around the edges of our stock. It's starting to get warm. Now remember, we don't want this up at a boil, we pretty much want it at a slow simmer. So about 180 degrees. No more than that. Once you start getting that boil going, you start evaporating all your moisture and you're going to have to add moisture at a much higher rate. So we're going to go ahead and once we start seeing a little bit of bubbles, add that in there. And voila. You have just built a base for a beef stew. You are well on your way to a great meal. I'm chef Tony Hedger and that's how to build a base for a beef stew. Thank you very much.

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