I Like My Stew with a Side of Pineapple

6 Jan

We, here in Michigan, are used to lots of snow during Winter. And the cold. Well, not exactly “used to”, more like “prepared for”, because I hear “aren’t you from Michigan?” way too often (meaning: I complain about the cold and snow, a lot). To them, I say go suck an egg. Just because I live here doesn’t mean I have to love winter. I’m no skisman, I’m more of a sledder myself. So last Winter we were a bit spoiled, getting a mere one snow storm (which actually happened when I was flying out to Israel, so I ended up being delayed in Chicago for 24 hours WITH NO WINTER COAT, which also led to me crying in the Tel Aviv airport due to my lack of arrival of luggage…but I digress). It is January 4, 2013, and we’ve already had more snow than all of last year combined. But you know what? I’m not too upset over it. I’m getting my lungs used to the cold outdoor running, I have a big long puffy coat that is amazingly warm (apparently duck down is the superior of the downs?), and heat in included in my rent, so we’re nice and toasty at home! Why all the talk of snow? I made the first real wintery dish of the season: Beef Stew.

But this is no ordinary Beef Stew. I used a recipe from the trustworthy Stephanie Izzard from her book Girl In The Kitchen for the Never Ending Chicago Winter Beef Stew. I’ve been eying this recipe every time the temperature drops, but I’ve never made the commitment. I had a long soul searching night, and decided I was ready to take the next step: the time had come for stew. As I started reading the recipe, I had to cartoon rub my eyes with fists and blink them back open like a fawn seeing for the first time: there’s a hell of a lot of fruit in this recipe. For Beef Stew. Fruit. Beef. Stew. Interesting. Now, according to Ms. Izzard (and my good friend Internet), pineapple actually helps to tenderize beef. Pineapple contains Bromelain, an enzyme that breaks down the muscle fiber and connective tissue of meat (bromelian can also be used as a homeopathic remedy for reducing inflammation and indigestion, for all you Echinasiea-heads out there). I’m sold. Now, for the apple and pear that’s also involved in this stew…

That pear has seen better days...

That pear has seen better days…

Notable ingredients that help make the “broth”: balsamic vinegar, fish sauce, and dijon mustard (in addition the classics, including my HOMEMADE chicken stock). Well this is just a hodge-podge of ingredients I would never think to put together (and that, my friends, is why I am not a Top Chef). Besides these aspects, it’s a straightforward stew: brown meat, sauté aromatics (onions/garlic), add everything else, simmer for 4 hours.

How to cut down on dish use: put browned meat in the lid of the pot you're using. Did I just blow your mind?

How to cut down on dish use: put browned meat in the lid of the pot you’re using. Did I just blow your mind?

I decided to throw caution to the wind and add some sliced carrots after about an hour’s worth of cooking, because carrots are delicious in stew. Looking back, I’m still happy with my decision.

Look at those chunks of potato....pineapple?!

Look at those chunks of potato….pineapple?!

This absolutely had a distinctive flavor, especially in comparison to a “by the book” beef stew, but it was really great. It had the prefect balance of sweet, salty, tangy, and meaty. I will definitely use this as a base for all of my upcoming beef stews (so for the 1 or so a year I make). And the meat was noticeably more tender thanks to the Bromelain. Thanks Bromelain!

On another topic, I’ve come across some local (Ann Arbor) blogs that are worth a read:

  • A2GastroBoy – Kibitzing about the art and science of good food in Ann Arbor and Beyond
  • All the Brews Fit to Pint – Beer news, views, and events from Ann Arbor, Michigan, and beyond, with your humble correspondent, David Bardallis
  • Damn Arbor – A blog about life, Ann Arbor, and life in Ann Arbor. We are grad students, townies, and derelicts

Food, Beer, and general Assing around. What’s not to like?

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