Braising is when meat is seared, then put into a low oven with a little liquid and cooked for several hours. It's a great way to make roasts, but I wanted to try it on my grandma's pipi stew. My mom, my aunties, my dad, my grandpa -- we've all been trying to figure out how to make grandma's stew, but since she didn't write it down or even measure, I think my mom (grandma's former daughter-in-law) gets the closest. The rest of us rely on our taste memory and the aspect of the stew we like the most. For me, it's the softness of the stew meat. So far, I've tried to cut the stew meat into smaller pieces, but no matter how long I cooked it, it didn't come out right. . .until now.
Grandma's stew needs to be full of meat. Stew meat with the bone is what grandma used because I remember the sound of the bones clanging on the bottom of the pot, but I used boneless stew meat, left in their large chunks. I floured and seasoned the meat, then seared it on all sides in my guardian ware heavy duty aluminum pots. Once all the pieces were seared, I put the meat back in, leaving all the crispy, burnt nubbies on the bottom, added the potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes and onions, covered and cooked for three hours with a little red wine, beef stock and bay leaves.
After three hours, I was a little disappointed because the meat looked solid, so three hours down the drain, but dinner has to be served, so I continued on. It actually smelled like roast until I added more liquid, diced, seasoned tomatoes and tomato paste. Before serving I also made super easy Bisquick dumplings. The stew meat was all I asked for: firm in the stew, but soft and melty in my mouth. My mom told me, "grandma would be pround of you." That's the best compliment!
Mary Uilani Kaumeheiwa Sodetani - I miss eating in your kitchen, but I miss your grandma hugs and honi the best.