Stew

Gil's LotD readers: I've decided to bring my dutch oven cooking blog posts into this blog. If you're not interested in this or future blog posts there is a page available here with only links of the day on it. RSS readers can find a feed on that page as well.

This recipe was pulled off of the Yahoo dutch oven mailing list archives. I spent an hour or so the previous day looking for a stew recipe to polish up for the next DOG meeting and settled on this one. I prepared it without the onions, with a can of water and with only two carrots.

Dutch Oven Stew:
A very good stew recipe that was recently given to us!!
1 1/2 lbs sirloin steak, cubed (or stew meat)
1 lb small baby carrots (or cut some up)
6 medium potatoes, cubed
2 large onions, diced
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 can water (if desired)
1 envelope dry onion soup mix
1/2 to 1 lb bacon pieces, crisply fried -- reserve the fat you drain off
1. Bacon may be fried in Dutch oven or pre-fried (this saves Dutch oven time)
2. Brown sirloin cubes in half of the bacon fat -- lid off.
3. Add vegetables.
4. Mix soups and water and pour over meat and vegetables. Stir to mix.
5. Simmer with 10 coals on the lid and 15 underneath the Dutch oven for about 1 1/2 hours -- lid on the entire time. (Mike's note: I use the LSDOS "rings" method. Use one ring of coals below, 1 1/2 rings on the lid).
Serves 6 - 8.

The production of this meal turned out to be quite an ordeal. I misjudged how long it would take the chimney of 20-25 coals to start (10 mins) and spent a good 15-20 minutes cutting everything up. Upon rushing outside and seeing the coals ashed over in the chimney I started frying the bacon immediately. The coals were mostly dead however and in order to finish the frying job I had to start an entirely new chimney causing me to spend 30 minutes total on frying about 5 pieces of bacon. All of this wasted time made me cut it down to two carrots in order to get everything on the fire faster. Next time I'll be sure to cut up everything but the carrots before starting the chimney. I stuck to the 10 bottom / 15 top mostly and replenished coals 40 minutes in (at that time they had been lit for about 50-60 minutes). It cooked for 2 hours and I mostly rotated it every 15 minutes. There was some slacking at the end which gave me slight burning on the bottom and some of the meat on top.

The stew was cooked all the way through. The beef and potatoes were properly tender. Unfortunately the tiny amount of bacon and carrots seemed to disappear entirely among the potatoes. Even though the coals were mostly burned out the stew was still incredibly hot and needs to cool on the plate before eating. The finished product was incredibly salty owing to the canned cream of mushroom soup but still tasty.

I've decided to go ahead and do this recipe for the DOG meeting along with those oatmeal carmelita things. Next time I will do the entire half slab of bacon, add more carrots and bump up the potato count by a few. To counter the saltiness I'll try the low-sodium cream of mushroom soup and hope that things get diluted out a bit by increasing the ingredients. Finally, I do honestly believe my coal count was good and the burning just came from a lack of turning. Next time I'll hit top and bottom turns every 15 minutes to get a clean bottom.

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