Sprucing up leftovers: beef-mushroom stew on Twitter Cooking Live

Some leftovers are particularly tough to deal with. For years I’ve dreaded the extra meat left after a Chinese fondue. That thinly sliced meat is not an easy thing to cook. Boiling it is kind of boring, stewing it leads to a rather mushy result, and frying it is also not as simple as it looks.

So Monday, having a couple of pounds of beef left from an overly ambitious purchase, I decided that my first Twitter Cooking Live of 2010 would be dedicated to finding a satisfying solution. Twitter Cooking Live (signaled with the hashtag #cookinglive), for those who don’t know it yet (and that should be most of you), is a spontaneous activity that a handful of dedicated foodies have undertaken, in the last 18 months or so, by simply tweeting as they cook, to share their culinary adventures and make everyone on Twitter get hungry. The concept is open to anyone with a Twitter account and a social bent on their cooking. The name “feed” is never more appropriate than when people cook live on it.

First step of the recipe consisted in slicing the meat in strips, and marinating it to give it more taste:

RemyCharest Marinated meat, sliced in slivers, in red wine, olive oil, orange + lemon juice, w/ Espelette, pepper, parsley, thyme, herbs. #cookinglive

RemyCharest Meat marinated for 3-4 hours. Stirred a couple of times, to make sure it got evenly flavored. #cookinglive

With the meat well-marinated, it was time to get cooking. The marinated meat seemed to me like it would go particularly well with mushrooms, and I cooked those to give them extra flavour as well:

RemyCharest Starting by sauteeing mushrooms in small batches in a pan, so they brown well. In butter and olive oil.#cookinglive.

Browning sliced mushrooms in small batches ensures the slices remain firm and makes them tastier.

When all the mushrooms were well-browned, and looking great in big, colorful slices, it was time to pan-fry the meat as well. This involved a couple of steps, to ensure that the beef wouldn’t just be stewed:

RemyCharest Drained marinade. Now panfrying the meat over medium-high heat, in olive oil and butter as well.#cookinglive

Liquid from marinade comes out as meat cooks. Toss excess amount out, let meat cook until it caramelizes a bit, for taste. #cookinglive

It's essential to pan fry the meat until it starts caramelizing, to provide it with flavor.

When the meat was well-browned – again, in a few batches to ensure that it cooked properly, I started the third step of cooking:

RemyCharest Tossing sliced onions and sliced red peppers in the pan, over medium heat. Sort of deglazes the caramelized meat juices. #cookinglive

Then came a final step, to bring everything together in this sort of mix between a stir-fry and a stew:

RemyCharest Finished tossing onions and peppers, deglazed with red wine. Tossed mushrooms, meat and onions & peppers in large pot. #cookinglive

RemyCharest Adding a bit of the fondue broth and some more red wine to the mix, and letting it simmer 15-20 minutes. #cookinglive

This created a very rich combination, with a lot of caramelized and grilled flavors. Balancing out the flavors became key to finishing the recipe well. This meant adding something that would freshen the dish up:

Adding parsley and basil to the recombined stir-fry beef and mushroom stew

RemyCharest Lots of caramelized flavors in the mix so added chopped parsley & a cube of frozen basil in olive oil, to add zing & freshness. #cookinglive

RemyCharest Tasted and decided to add a little lemon zest. Ties in with the marinade, and gives aromatic lift.#cookinglive.

A couple more minutes cooking over medium-low heat allowed the flavors to come together. The next night, the stir-stew was swerved with sliced polenta, pan-fried in olive oil, and steamed green beans. A very satisfying winter meal, and the tastiest, best-balanced meal I’ve ever made from leftover Chinese fondue meat. I might just buy too much meat on purpose, next time. Although beef strips or beef cubes would make the browning process a lot simpler, and the presentation a bit better.

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