Friday, January 14, 2011

Beef & Beer Stew

Over this holiday break, I made another crock pot meal, this time using my fiance's roommate's crock pot.  We wanted to have a special something to do on New Years, but unfortunately my fiance, an EMT, had to work until 10 p.m. (or rather, that is when he was scheduled until, he ended up actually having to work overtime!).  So, we decided that a fun thing to do for just us would be for me to make a crock pot meal and we'd have a late dinner with sparkling wine when he got home.  For this, since I still don't have my cookbooks with me, I decided to make a "manly" dish: the Beer & Beef Stew from (the site actually has a "bachelor's" beer and beef stew as well, but since there were no vegetables in that, I refused to make it for our dinner).  The cool thing about is that you can adjust the servings that you want to make and it will tell you automatically how much of the ingredients you need for that size of a recipe.  Because it was just the two of us and we were using a smaller crock pot, I only made a half a recipe.

What I love about this dish is it is one of those ones where you just throw everything into the crock pot and turn it on.  It is also good that it is one where you could chop all the vegetables in advance so in the morning you'd really only have to throw everything in together.  As you can see in the picture above, first I added all the vegetables: onion, garlic, carrots, celery, and potatoes.  Then I added the stew beef, tomato paste, and the spices: pepper and oregano.  You will not be surprised to know that I did not add the salt.

Next, I added the only liquid that this stew is cooked in: beer.  The recipe doesn't specify what kind of beer, though I imagine that it might taste different depending on what kind of beer you're using.  Because we had just purchased Tecate for our camping trip, that is what I used for the stew.

After stirring it all together, to the right is what it looked like when I turned it on.  The stew is supposed to cook for 8 to 10 hours on low and then you're supposed to mix together butter and flour and add it to the stew, allowing the broth to thicken.  I did not do this last step partly because I didn't really care in this case about thickening it and partly because, with my fiance being called to stay overtime at work, I forgot about finishing the recipe before he got home.

This is what it looked like when it was done cooking.

Now, I made a half a recipe, according to which I should get three servings out of it.  Of course, that all depends on how big of a serving you make.  My fiance and I each ate out of small bowls and ended up having two servings each.  Then my fiance took all the leftovers to work the next day (yes, he had to work on BOTH New Year's Eve and New Year's Day) and finished it for lunch.  So, one could argue that we got five servings out of it, or just that we got three servings as the recipe said.  Anyway, my fiance loved the stew and I thought it was decent, but not my best stew ever.  I think it might be interesting to try it with a darker beer.

In terms of cost, I spent $14.05 on the ingredients for this recipe, but of course I got more onions and more celery than the recipe called for.  We already had the spices and garlic, but we had purchased an 18-pack of the Tecate beer, which came to $14.69.  So, assuming that we could this as having made three servings, we actually spent $9.58 per serving.  If we had needed to buy the spices and garlic as well, it would have come to a whopping $11.58 per serving.  However, the big expense was obviously the beer and since we were purchasing an 18-pack and then only using one can, it seems unfair to add the whole pack on, so I'll say that this stew would cost approximately $20.87 to make if you needed to buy everything (about $6.96 per serving) or $14.87 as I cooked it (about $4.96 per serving).  So, although this is definitely not a super expensive meal, it is not as cheap as some of the ones I've made in the past.  Also, because it's a traditional stew that includes beef and potato (both higher calorie items) and the beer, this is not as low-calories as some of the other dishes that I've made: it comes out to about 584 calories per serving.  Now, of course, all of this was calculated assuming that we got three servings out of this dish.  If you were to serve yourself smaller bowls (like we did originally) and eat it with something on the side (say, a large salad), you could probably get five or six servings out of this dish.  That would make it out to be only about 292 calories per serving and a cost of $2.48 per serving.  That would be much healthier and much nicer on the graduate student budget.

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