Recipe and directions by Erin Lockett
Photos by Neil Ruud
Erin Lockett is a food science student at UC Davis and focuses her studies on beer making. As you will see, she’s a big fan of Brother Thelonious Belgian-Style Abbey Ale. We think her beer making studies are off to a great start!
Now that the thought of going outside chills me to the bone, I suppose it’s appropriate to start making some hearty, filling, warm and fuzzy meals. Mack Daddy Beef Stew is all that. Named for the confidence oozing from Thelonious Monk’s depiction on the label, this recipe uses Brother Thelonious, a malty, Belgian-style ale, which puts this stew on a whole ‘nother plane of existence in the flavor department.
1 ½ lb chuck, cut into ½ inch cubes
¼ lb bacon, cut into ¼ inch slices
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
2 carrots, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
½ can tomato paste
1 cup Brother Thelonious beer
2 cups beef broth
1 potato, russet or gold, cut into mouth-manageable chunks
2 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
½ cup flour
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves, minced
1 large, sharp chef’s knife
1 cutting board
measuring cups (liquid and dry)
1 oven-safe stock pot, or Dutch oven, 6 qt. capacity, with lid
2 large mixing bowls
1 paper grocery bag, top half cut off
1 silicone spatula
1 pair of tongs
1 slotted spoon1 dinner plate, lined with 3 layers of paper towels
Make Your Seasoning Sack
Place flour, dried thyme, dried oregano, salt, and pepper in your half of a paper grocery bag. Hold the opening together and shake it like a Polaroid picktcha to evenly distribute seasonings. Working in batches, place the chuck in the seasoning sack and lightly coat each piece with the flour mixture. Continue until all pieces are coated, then set aside. This would also be a good time to pre-heat your oven to 300F and move the rack to the bottom third of the oven.
Makin’ Bacon, Among Other Things
Heat up your large, oven-safe vessel over medium heat. Add bacon slices and cook until it is done to your liking, at least five minutes. Remove bacon from the vessel with slotted spoon and drain on a plate lined with paper towels or that other half of the grocery bag. Add the onion, celery, and carrot to the vessel. Cook these guys on medium heat until they are all soft, about 20 minutes or more. If your bacon did not yield much fat, add some butter or olive oil. Remove vegetables from vessel and place in a large mixing bowl, set aside.
MEAT MEAT MEAT
Add butter and olive oil to the pot and melt over medium heat. When the fats are nice and hot (just the way I like it) add pieces of flour-coated chuck but please, whatever you do, do not crowd the pan. The meat should have about a ½ inch radius of free space around it at the very least. So, again, work in batches. Cook the pieces by flipping the pieces as they cook until all the sides are lightly browned, around 4 minutes per batch. When all batches are finished, set aside in another mixing bowl.
Are We There Yet?
Almost. Add some more butter or oil and let it get hot, again. Add garlic and fresh thyme to the pot. Cook on medium heat until it smells super good, around one minute. Turn off the heat now so you won’t start a grease fire. Gently pour in your beer. Use your spatula to scrape the brown bits off of the bottom of the pot. Then, add beef broth and tomato paste. Mix to incorporate. Add the bacon, softened vegetables, potato chunks and chuck back into the pot. Turn the heat back on, but this time, crank it up to high heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Once a boil is reached, turn off the heat, put the lid on, and place in the pre-heated oven. Let it do its thang in the oven for at least an hour and a half, up to two hours.
Yield: ½ gallon plus a lil’ more
Notes: You can totally ask your butcher to cut the chuck into cubes for you, but I would not buy beef labeled as “stew beef.” It does not have enough fat to taste good for this application. Remember to wash your hand often, especially after handling meat. If you place meat on a cutting board, IMMEDIATELY wash it with hot and soapy water before puttying anything else on it. Same goes with anything (utensils, bowls, etc.) that comes in contact with raw or undercooked meat.
Good Vibes: Buying Brother Thelonious helps support exceptional jazz music education for public schools and promising jazz musicians.