A few weeks ago Kyle and I were out of town for just over a week. We got to visit family and friends, and do lots of shopping and eating. When we’re planning a trip out of our small city, I always anticipate the opportunity to try a number of new restaurants and eateries. While there are good places to eat where we live, the choices are few … which means when you can’t eat gluten, those choices become even slimmer. We thoroughly enjoyed all the different places we tried (I even had gluten free fish and chips after my cousin recommended Brit’s Fish & Chips – thank you Elizabeth!!) – however, after a few nights of overindulging, all I can think about is coming home and cooking up something comforting.
So during our 15 hour drive home, I brought up my craving for beef stew to Kyle more times than I’m sure he wanted to hear. All I could think about was the rich “gravy” that the beef and vegetables swim in, simmered for hours and full of umami flavour. About the tender carrots that take on a meaty taste after a brief simmer in the stew. And of course, about the tender beef, marbled with fat which melts into the meat, causing it to fall apart at the slightest suggestion and to melt beautifully in my mouth. Oh yes, you can bet that the first thing I made when I came home was a big ‘ol pot of stew.
Beef Stew with Bourbon & Carrots
I always serve my stew with buttery mashed pototoes; but for those who prefer egg noodles or rice, I am sure this would work with those as well. And the only veg I ever tend to serve with stew? A mound of minted peas, smothered in fruity olive oil.
3 lbs chuck beef roast (beef shoulder)
1 Tbsp potato starch or sweet rice flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Olive oil (for cooking – about 1-2 Tbsp)
2 small onions, diced
2 celery stalks, sliced
2 cups red wine
1/4 cup bourbon
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
8 cloves garlic, smashed
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
3-4 cups beef stock – * make sure it’s gluten free
4 carrots, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped (optional)
Preheat oven to 325°F.
Cut the beef into 1-2″ cubes, removing any silver skin. Toss the beef with the potato starch or rice flour, and the salt & pepper. Heat 1 Tbsp of the olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the beef to the pot in batches (about 3-4) in order to brown 2 sides. Remove each batch to a bowl. You want a good char on the beef – if you try to turn it, and it’s stuck to the pan, it’s probably not charred enough. This should take about 3-5 minutes per batch. Set the bowl of browned beef aside.
Turn the heat of the dutch oven to medium. Add the onions and celery, and saute until the onion begins to soften, stirring frequently – about 5-8 minutes. Add 1 cup of the wine to the pan, and scrape up all the meaty, charred bits from the bottom of the pot. Then add the remaining wine, bourbon, and balsamic vinegar to the pot. Add the garlic, rosemary, thyme, beef stock and browned beef to the pot – turn up the heat to high, and bring the stew to a simmer. Once it reaches this point, cover the dutch oven, then place it in the oven for 2 hours.
After 2 hours, stir in the chopped carrots, turn up the heat to 350°F and continue to cook the stew uncovered for another 30-40 minutes, or until the carrots are tender. Remove the dutch oven from the stove, then stir in the parmesan cheese. Serve over potatoes, noodles, or rice and sprinkle with parsley if desired.
Makes approximately 8 cups of stew.