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Where do you draw the line (seasonings)

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Tonight with the slight chill in the air I decided to throw together a beef stew.. while most would consider a stew just something of a thrown-together thickened "soup" I still try to achieve a superior flavor to what I have had/made in the past.

This stew was built on.. "beef tips" .. which I sauteed in a little olive oil.. with kosher salt.. when adequately carmalized I de-glazed the pan with "sirloin beef stock" (something I found at publix) .. so far so good.. I had prepped broccoli by trimming away the stalk, chopped yellow onion, peeled and chopped white potato, and had pre-sliced carrot "coins" and had some white mushrooms standing by for a rinse before tossing them in later in the cooking.

For seasoning.. I also added a teaspoon or so of a "Tuscan Seasoning" that I have.. which is Garlic, "spices", toasted sesame seeds, lemon peel, red and green bell, sea salt, scallions.

So.. it was just a small amount and really didn't drastically change flavor.. but I am trying to learn how to seek my desired flavor. After tasting a few times.. I've added salt.. and then ground fresh black pepper. I don't dislike the flavor at all.. I think it tastes pretty good.. but it doesn't hit me as incredible.

The problem is.. do I add more salt? More pepper? Soy sauce? Garlic and a little salt? I just don't know.. and I could easily ruin it if I just throw stuff in. So where do you guys draw the line from original seasoning? Do you add just S&P.. or have you honed your taste to know what you want from a particular seasoning?

Just a side note.. from my chili experiments.. there seems to be a benchmark.. where if something is seasoned well.. it "tastes good" to most people.. and I get compliments regardless of ratios.. not sure if that factors in here.. maybe I should be more deliberate with my seasonings and not use pre-built combinations.
post #2 of 13
Thread Starter 
Sorry to reply from my own thread.. but further cooking.. brought out the flavor.. I didn't add any more seasoning.. it matured.. while just sitting there on a low simmer.. I'm too confused to say any more other than I didn't add anything else. :crazy:
post #3 of 13
Experience is the best teacher :chef:
CHEFED
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CHEFED
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post #4 of 13
Seasoning can be very tricky when you add so many prepackaged items and "spice blends." These items may or may not have loads of salt added in addition to who-knows-what preservatives and will change the flavor of what you are making.

If I have to use store-bought broth I always make sure to get the low sodium kind.

Garlic powders and spice blends have their place for a few things, but not a stew. Only real garlic and real spices can give you a full bodied taste. If you don't want to eat the garlic just stick it in whole and disgard when serving.

Seasoning works best when you add it in layers, a little bit at a time every step of the way. I don't know why this makes a difference but maybe BDL will be by to explain it further.

As you concluded yourself - a stew takes time for the flavors to marry. It's good that you're tasting every so often along the way, it's a great way to become part of the process.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks for both of your inputs.. Ed B.. I know that I will do ok by experimenting.. maybe this is like putting in golf.. no one can really teach you this.. it has to be learned from experience.

Mapiva.. you know.. you strike a chord with me in your recommendation.. in that I really just "threw" this together.. I've heard of adding "layers" of flavor/seasoning by incorporating items.. slowly.. I did go with garlic powder.. vs. fresh garlic.. but that was because I forgot to add it.. in the end.. it is a very tasty beef stew.. but the brocolli and onion completely dissolved.. yet their flavors lingered. I need to consider portioning some parts off later for texture considering it was a vegetable beef stew and ended up being a potato/carrot/mushroom stew =D
post #6 of 13
Boy have I messed up some dishes. I notoriously make a bad stir fry. Last time I made a beef stir fry I threw everything in at the same time and it was terrible. The worst part was that I threw in some broccoli that I had attempted to lightly steam but ended up boiling to death. It dissolved completely and instead of the dish having a nice brown sauce it ended up with a green goo.

Try this. When you make your stew, put in some onions, mushrooms, carrots, whatever vegetables you want to impart flavor. But realize that once these veggies have been cooking for such a long time they lose their own flavor and their texture is too soft to eat enjoyably. I toss them out or use a hand held FP and dissolve them into the sauce, then I add fresh onions, mushrooms, potatoes, and let them cook until desired doneness.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 
Mapiva.. I get what you are saying.. but to me that has more to do with texture than flavor/seasoning.. a suggestion on your stir fry.. cut the ingredients into pieces that will cook evenly.. stir fry is meant to be cooked quickly and combined.. everything should finish at the same time.
post #8 of 13
Eastshores, I hardly ever use premixed blends, both for the reasons others have stated, and for the one you are discovering: You don't really know what's in them, or the effects individual components have on the final flavor.

Take something as simple as Herbs du Provence. There are, literally, hundreds of blends under that name. Every housewife in southern France has her own. And no two commercial ones are the same.

Even if you find one you like, you don't know why.

That's why it's better to start learning about individual herbs and spices---what they taste like, how they effect a dish, how they interact with other herbs and spices, whether fresh and dry taste and behave differently, when the best time to add them is, etc. That way, when you make a dish that isn't quite right to you, you'll know why---and be able to add the appropriate flavoring.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks KYHeirloomer.. that makes a lot of sense. I knew it would come down to that after explaining that I used a pre-mixed seasoning blend.. you're right though.. I have no idea what all of the flavors are between seasoning mixes and broth products. I'll have to start experimenting with the real deal.. and then I can answer my own question.
post #10 of 13
Also, sometimes what is missing is sweetness ,as in the case of a tomato dish, or acid. I find many times a tiny splash of lemon or lime or balsamic vinegar fixes it. Start out tiny and you should be able to taste the difference
post #11 of 13
I like to be careful with some vegetables, such as broccoli. They reach a point in doneness where the flavor can become overbearing in an unpleasant way. If I want broccoli in my stew, I add it at the end, so it has retained its fresh color and crisp-tender taste.

Seasoning is a very personal thing. I shy away from 'blends', as they are not usually proportioned to my taste. In addition, some contain ingredients that I do not like.

Unless you are going to make a dish exactly the same way every time, it's difficult to say how much salt, pepper or other seasonings should go in. Some foods simply need more seasonings than other. If you are using potatoes, for example, you need to add more salt. But, if you are leaving the potatoes out, then less salt is needed. Another thing to remember, especially with stew, is that the flavors need time to marry. This is not so much cooking time, as it is resting time. This is why stew always tastes better the next day.

As you gain experience and confidence, which seasoning to use, as well as how much, will become second nature to you. Until then, keep on trying. Keep notes on what you liked, didn't like and how others responded. Happy cooking.
"The pressure's on...let's cook something!"
 
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post #12 of 13
" If you don't want to eat the garlic just stick it ..."

SURELY you JEST!! :crazy:

Mike :D
travelling gourmand
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travelling gourmand
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post #13 of 13
No jest, as preposterous as it may seem. I always equate someone who uses garlic powder with someone who doesn't want to eat garlic in its true form - that's why I made that suggestion. We never throw garlic it out at OUR house.... I grew up watching my Mom gnaw on raw garlic. She always had a clove with dinner.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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