Thursday, January 15, 2015

Recipe Review: Ted Allen's Belgian Beef Stew

How easy was the recipe to follow? 

Ted Allen's recipes in In My Kitchen are very clearly written, so I found this one very easy to follow. The skill level required for the steps is a little beyond a beginning home cook, but for someone who's self-described as "competent," it wasn't that bad.

I do recommend doing all your prep work before you turn on the flame, so you have mise en place - which is a fancy way to say "everything ready to go beforehand." 

I also recommend photocopying the pages on which the recipe appears so you don't have to flip back-and-forth between steps to check an ingredient amount with greasy or salty hands - it ended up starting on the odd-numbered page and finishing on the reverse, which I found a little distracting. (It's my preference to tape recipes above my work area so I don't need to turn my back on an active stove to check the next step.)

Aside from that, the recipe came together more quickly than I'd anticipated - I allowed myself 45 minutes for prep and stovetop cooking before placing the Dutch oven into the heated oven, but I didn't need it. 

Does it require specialty equipment that I don't always have accessible? 

Yes and no - it requires a Dutch oven, which I have, but don't use often enough. It's not as difficult for me to access as my food processors, coffee grinder, or blender.

On the plus side, it's great to have another dish I can use my lovely Le Creuset enameled cast iron to cook!

How did my husband & daughter enjoy it?

This is also a mixed bag.

My husband enjoyed it, but the recipe as written calls for 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, so it was a bit too spicy for our palates.

The kid tried it, which was great, but she was very upset by the strength of the cayenne. (Luckily, I still had whole milk in the house!)

This kind of makes me wonder if it's a misprint; we want to make it again, reducing the amount of cayenne or substituting another spice. I was thinking that smoked paprika might be complementary to the other flavors in the dish.

Was it too much work to add to my regular rotation? 

Again, a mixed bag.
It's too much work for an everyday weeknight meal, but it would be nice to have as a Sunday treat every now and again.

Verdict: Will make again, with noted substitution of smoked paprika for cayenne.

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