Help with partially making beef stew in advance
Good morning, hounds! I'm having a St Paddy's day blast, serving beef stew to 40-50. Since this is going to be a big undertaking for me (and I'll be doing it solo), I want to be organized and make as much as possible in advance so I'm not exhausted and can enjoy the party.
So...tell me what you think about this idea...probably next weekend, two weeks before the party, I want to get my stew beef (all 12 lbs of it) browned off. I'm planning to deglaze the pan(s), then freeze the browned beef and liquid until a day or two before the party. Then I'll thaw it, and proceed with my veggies, etc. and long oven braise. I'll then refrigerate the stew until time to warm it up for the party.
Do you think this will work? Any pitfalls I need to watch out for? Can I then freeze any leftovers?
I think this is a great idea. Stew always tastes better the next day and freezes well. Waiting to add the veggies until a day before the party is also a good idea since I don't think veggies do that well frozen, esp if you are using potato which shouldn't be added until near the end of cooking so they don't disintergrate.
Yes, I would still freeze leftovers but I'm not fussy when it comes to stew.
CI has a new modern version of boeuf bourguignon that is so much easier than the more traditional versions. The beef gets browned in the oven while it cooks. You could adapt the recipe to suit your theme, ie use stout instead of red wine etc...if you made the stew in a big roasting pan you could probably do it in one batch. I like a mix of slowly cooked veg and some fresher tasting ones. I like adding sautéed mushrooms, pearl onions at the end and I always finish off a stew with lots of parsley and some fresh alcohol(I use brandy when making bb)
I was also thinking roasting pan instead of traditional Dutch oven or soup pot for THAT much stew.
I'm a bit picky about the beef... not necessarily cut but prep. I want beef in ONE bite chunks with ANYTHING "connective" (that would be most unpleasant in mouth, at least for me) trimmed away. These trimmed off bits would be used to start the browning process and fished out for a treat for dog before the REAL browning. Whenever I make stew or something like pot roast where I want BEEFY, dark sauce/gravy... serious browning and deglazing is key to me. I use a LOT of onions (thin sliced or diced) while browning... more flavor and color. I also watch it closely... cooking to just THIS side of "burning", then add liquid (stock or water) to deglaze and repeat the process. While going thru browning, tthat's when I prep veggies... carrots, celery, onions (largish chunks or maybe pearl onions... if I'm feeling especially BORED), and potatoes... all in big container of water. Could be done night before & if ya have a cool/cold place (like in cooler outside back door or unheated garage), ya won't even need to find fridge space.
Nowadays, you have to be very careful with the beef in stew. Meat is so much leaner (unless you buy prime), it can dry out even immersed in liquid (since the stew liquid in fact does nothing to "moisturize" the meat). Cooking the meat for many hours results in fall apart tender but dry meat.
I would sear the meat AND then fully cook the vegetables and meat in the liquid in advance - but remove the meat as soon as it gets into the tender range (and vegetables too). Then separate and freeze all the components. Meats, Vegetables, Stock. You can refrigerate the stock, pull of the fat once it's cold, then reduce the stock and freeze.
This way, at event time, you are just reheating and maybe thickening.