When a Recipe Works…

3 Nov

I was thrilled to see that an old recipe I developed for Sunset magazine received kudos on Bay Area food writer Carolyn Jung’s website today. The recipe was included in Sunset‘s excellent new retrospective cookbook, which is what sparked Jung’s interest. It’s a beef and ale stew and I’m pretty partial to it myself. But whenever you send a new recipe out into the world, there’s always the fear that maybe all the retesting you did failed to identify a hidden flaw, or that maybe the recipe worked in your kitchens, but not in a particular reader’s own kitchen.
Here’s the recipe:

Beef-Ale Stew and Green Onion-Buttermilk Dumplings

(Serves 6 to 8 )

4 pounds beef chuck, fat trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces

6 tablespoons plus 2 cups flour, divided use

3 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided use

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided use

2 bottles (12 ounces each) ale

2 large onions, thinly sliced

1/2 pound mushrooms, quartered

3 large carrots, halved lengthwise and cut into 1-inch lengths

1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions (green part only)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

4 1/2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces

3/4 cup buttermilk, or more as needed

1 egg

In a large bowl, toss beef with 3 tablespoons flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and the pepper. In a large pot over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil. Add enough beef to pot to form a single layer (about a third of beef), being careful not to overcrowd pot. Brown meat on all sides, about 7 minutes total, then transfer meat to a large bowl. Brown remaining beef in two batches and transfer to bowl. If meat or pan juices start to scorch, reduce heat.

Add 1 bottle of ale to pot. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, scrape up any browned bits on bottom. Pour ale from pot over reserved beef and return empty pot to medium-high heat. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pot. Add onions and 2 teaspoons salt. cook, stirring often, 2 minutes. Cover pot and reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions have a hint of gold color, about 20 minutes.

Remove lid, raise heat to medium-high, stir in 3 tablespoons flour, and cook, stirring often, 3 minutes. Add mushrooms, reserved beef and ale, remaining bottle of ale, and the carrots. Bring to a boil. Cover and lower heat to a gentle simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until beef is tender, about 3 hours.

About 40 minutes before serving, make dumplings: In a medium bowl, stir together remaining 2 cups flour and 3/4 teaspoon salt, green onions, and baking soda. Using a pastry blender or your fingers, work cold butter into flour mixture until it resembles cornmeal with some pea-size pieces. In another bowl, whisk together buttermilk and egg. Gently fold wet ingredients into dry, mixing until a very shaggy dough forms. If more liquid is needed, add additional buttermilk 1 tablespoon at a time. Gently form dough into 12 equal balls and drop into stew. Cover pot and cook until dumplings are fluffy and cooked through, 20 to 30 minutes. Let sit 15 minutes before serving; stew will thicken as it cools.

Per serving: 732 cal., 39 percent (288 cal.) from fat; 58 g protein; 32 g fat (13 g sat.); 50 g carbo (4.2 g fiber); 1,675 mg sodium; 220 mg chol.

From “The Sunset Cookbook”

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