Please always follow the USDA rules – don’t do as I do. 🙂 For my beef stew, I really do follow the USDA rules fairly closely but here’s how I do it:
Canning the Beef Stew:
- Cut the roast into fairly small pieces. I like to have a bite size piece and not a huge bite plus the smaller the piece, the more tender it’s going to be. I trim mine up really close. I don’t want any weird chewy, stringy pieces and I want as much fat as possible gone.
- Season the beef with whatever spices you want. For me, it’s Cajun Redhead, salt and black pepper.
- Add just a tad of oil in a Dutch oven – cast iron is my preference. I use grapeseed oil or olive oil. Get the oil hot, add the cut up meat in small amounts – maybe one pound at a time. If it’s grocery store beef, you may have water added and as that cooks off, you’ll want to drain it off, add more oil, get the oil hot and do it again. You decide if you’re going to save the liquid that cooks out. When I get beef from a farmer, I save that liquid and use it for the liquid in the jar. If it’s grocery store beef, I don’t use that liquid.
- In a separate Dutch oven, saute chopped onions, celery and jalapeno pepper if you’re using those.
- Peel and cut potatoes and carrots. I try to use equal about equal amounts, preferably 1 cup each, of potatoes and carrots.
- Once all the beef is browned, set it aside. If you’re going to use the liquid that cooked out of the meat, add it back to the Dutch oven. If you’re not using that liquid, add water. I use Better than Bouillon and will add 1 teaspoon for every 2 cups of liquid in the pot. You could use storebought beef broth but I would still use half as much broth as water.
- Bring the liquid to a boil, add bay leaves (I add one per jar, though I don’t put the bay leaves in the jars), add any seasonings you want to add besides what’s already on the meat. Let all that simmer stir to make sure the Better than Bouillon is dissolved and the flavor of the bay leaves is in the liquid. Add the meat but just long enough to make sure it’s hot.
- I place an empty, hot quart jar on the scale, hit tare, and using a slotted spoon, add however much meat I’m planning to add. I use anywhere from 6 – 8 ounces of meat. I prefer as much potatoes and carrots as meat.
- Once all the jars are filled, add the potatoes to the boiling liquid. I only leave the potatoes in there 3 or 4 minutes – just to get them hot. Then I use the slotted spoon and lift them out and into a colander (so I’m not leaving any of the potatoes in longer than the others). Then I’ll measure 3/4 cup to 1 cup of potatoes into each jar.
- Repeat the same thing with the carrots and add them to the jars.
- Add a little of the boiling cooking liquid to the onions, celery and peppers, then add those to the jars.
- Mash all the contents of the jars down if you need to. There’s a lot of “vacant” space in the jars with the meat, potatoes and carrots.
- Add 1/2 tsp. thyme to each jar if desired. (I do!)
- Do not overfill the jars. Leave the 1″ headspace.
- To fill the jars with the hot liquid, I start by adding 3 cups to each jar. That’s not enough to fill it but I try to give each jar equal amounts of the seasoned broth. If there’s more broth left, I’ll eyeball what I add to each jar.
- If I use all the broth and still have space in the jars (I always do), I finish filling with boiling water.
- Wipe the tops of the jars with a towel soaked in vinegar. Places lids and rings on the jar.
- Pressure can at your appropriate pressure for 90 minutes.
How I Heat/Serve the Beef Stew:
- I make a roux always using cast iron. I’m sure it can be done using other pots but my choice is cast iron. Use equal parts of flour and oil. I don’t measure. I just pour in the oil, then add flour til it’s right. My guess is I use about 4 or 5 T. oil and flour. Sometimes I add more oil; sometimes I add more flower. If you’ve never made a roux, it will come easy after a few times. Place over medium heat. Stir constantly . . that means do not walk away for any reason <G>. When the roux starts to get dark, turn the fire down and continue to cook til it’s very dark.
- At this point, you can add more onions, celery, garlic, bell pepper, jalapeno pepper – just don’t overpower the roux by adding too much. The roux will saute the veggies but the roux will not get any darker once you add the veggies.
- I usually let the roux cool down a bit before adding room temp beef stew. You could add a little boiling water to the roux if you want to get going with the stew immediately.
- Add the stew. Cover and let simmer for 10 or 15 minutes. If you need more liquid, add more water with a bit of Better than Bouillon or beef bouillon granules. If you have too much water, remove the lid and let some of the liquid cook off.
- Taste to see if the seasonings are good. If not . . add whatever it needs.
Question: Do you serve beef stew over rice? We never did, even in Louisiana where people ate rice with every meal. In the beginning Vince wanted rice with the stew. I asked him the other day if he was going to want rice with it and he said “I’ll eat mine like you eat yours.” I told him . . I don’t mind making rice for you but I’m not eating rice with my stew!