Cooking Beef Stew

Joined Dec 25, 2016
I am cooking beef stew tonight with a lot of ingredients in it and the recipe says that I need to cook the stew in my oven with the lid on for 3.5 hours.  After the first hour, I took the lid off and forgot to put it back on.......  for like an hour.  Then I put the lid back on and cooked for another 1.5 hours.  Have a ruined the stew at all?
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Joined Sep 9, 2012
It should be fine, as long as the meat is tender you're ok. Cook as long as you need to, times aren't usually exact
Joined Oct 9, 2008
Nope, you're fine.

You keep the lid on in order to keep the moisture in. If you bake the stew without a cover, it can dry out, which obviously isn't what you want (not much of a stew if it's dry...).

A couple notes:
  1. If you ever do this again (yes, it can happen, our brains sometimes take a walk somewhere), and it does  get a bit dry, it's fine as long as it's not burnt. Just add some liquid. Be sure, however, to put the pot back on the stovetop and bring it to a simmer before putting it back in the oven, because it takes forever  for a pot of water to come to that perfect bare simmer just sitting in an oven.
  2. You can actually do this on purpose, with good reason. The problem with cooking a stew in a pot in an oven is that you don't know how fast it's cooking. I mean, you can't look into it really easily and see that it's boiling too fast. This is important, because if it does boil fast -- really, even a strong simmer is too fast -- the meat will get dry and stringy. What you want is a braise, which goes super  slowly. Now if your pot is open, you can see how fast the stuff is cooking and regulate the temperature as needed. Of course, you'll lose moisture and flavor. So what you do is -- this is the clever bit! -- you fold a big square of parchment paper in half into a triangle, then again and again until you have a very thin, pointy triangle. You measure this triangle against your pot: you want the triangle to be just about exactly the radius of the pot. Cut off the excess at the base. Now cut off about half an inch of the point. Unfold, and you'll have a circle of parchment with a hole in the middle, and it will fit perfectly into your pot. When you've brought the stew to a gentle simmer on your stovetop, lay the parchment on top of the stew, where it will stick easily. Place this in your oven. Check every now and again to be sure that you can just barely see it bubbling.
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