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updated: 11/7/2012 12:04 PM

Taking the slowly out of slowly simmered beef stew

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By J.M. Hirsch
Associated Press

Almost by definition, beef stew isn't a weeknight-friendly dish.

That's mostly a matter of the meat. Stew meat generally is tough and requires a long simmer to become tender. But who has time for a long simmer at the end of a long day at work?

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But stews are so right for the season, it seems a shame to give them up. Sure, you could plan ahead and make them on the weekend. But I'm guessing that I'm not the only person whose weekends rarely are relaxed enough to spend much time contemplating my dinners for the rest of the week.

Instead, I decided to come up with a beef stew that could be tossed together on a weeknight. It was easier than I expected.

The first step was replacing the meat. Stew meat was right out. But tender sirloin tips worked perfectly. But it was important to adapt the cooking technique to this cut of meat. If I just tossed it into the pot and let it cook with the rest of the ingredients, they would end up tough from overcooking. But I didn't want to add them only at the end, either, as this would prevent browning.

The solution was browning the meat first, then setting it aside while the other ingredients cooked. The meat then was returned to pot toward the end of cooking. The result was perfect taste and texture.

• Associated Press Food Editor J.M. Hirsch is author of the cookbook "High Flavor, Low Labor: Reinventing Weeknight Cooking." Follow him to great eats on Twitter @JM-Hirsch or email him at jhirsch@ap.org.

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