Recipe: Maytag Beef and Bacon Stew

For book club suppers, which are almost always on weekends, I like to make things you can cook ahead and reheat. When I came across this recipe for Maytag Beef and Bacon Stew in James Villas’ Bacon Cookbook, I knew it would be a big hit. Especially with this book club. They are a bacon-loving crowd, for sure.

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Unfortunately, I didn’t take any photos during the actual book club supper, so you’ll just have to imagine what a beef stew with onions and bacon topped with blue cheese looks like. Frankly, it’s not that attractive anyway. But it sure is delishy.

You start with bacon.

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Then you remove the bacon and crumble it.

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And add onions.

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I was tripling this recipes, so the onions weren’t cooperating with the caramleizing part of the instructions. So I divided them among other pans to get the job done.

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Then you take out your onions, and brown your beef. First, salt it:

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Then flour it. Then fry it:

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After it’s all browned — and you will probably have to do that in batches — you add ale to the pot to get up all the brown bits. Then you put back in your onions and bacon and add broth and vinegar and herbs and spices.

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I know, I know, this looks kind of disgusting. Trust me. Let it cook. For a long time. The longer, the better. It will be fabulous and your guests will ask for the recipe. Here it is:

Maytag Beef and Bacon Stew
Serves 4. You may want to at least double it. You’ll want leftovers.
5 slices lean peppered beef
3 large onions
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 1/2 pounds beef shoulder, trimmed of all excess fat and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup ale or full bodied beer
Pinch of dried thyme, crumbled
Pinch of dried rosemary, crumbled
2 bay leaves
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups beef broth
1 tablespoon cider vinegear
1 cup crumbled Maytag blue cheese

In a large, heavy pot, fry the bacon over medium heat until almost crisp, drain on paper towls, and crumble. Add the onions to the bacon fat, reduce the heat to very low, and cook them slowly, stirring, til nicely caramelized, about 20 minutes. Transfer the onions to a plate, add the vegetable oil to the remaining fat in the pot and increase the heat to moderately high.

On a large plate, dust the beef in the flour, tapping off any excess. Add to the pot and brown on all sides. Add the ale and stir, scraping off any browned bits on the bottom of the pot.

Add the crumbled bacon and onions to the pot and add the thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, salt and pepper, broth and vinegar. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook til the beef is very tender, about 2 hours.

Serve the stew in bowls with a little blue cheese sprinkled on top. Not too much!

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