Wednesday, January 30, 2013

what's on my plate, take 2

You need to make this beef stew. Period. It is amazing.

searing the stew meat
adding the meat to the caramelized veggies

cheap dry red
This is one of those meals that looks so humble and non-assuming, but totally blows you away with the first bite.

The end result is well worth the investment of standing over a cast iron skillet, searing each individual piece of stew meat a la Julia Child. It is worth making your own bone broth a few days in advance. It is worth restraining yourself from drinking the wine instead of using it as the recipe states.

Zao's Daddy requested beef stew the other day, due to all this cold rainy weather we've been having. In my search for a good paleo beef stew, I stumbled upon this one and used it as a guideline and source of inspiration.

I have no doubt that the original recipe is fantastic, but as with everything, I have to modify to suit our particular set of dietary parameters.

Zao's Mom's Beef Stew


3 pounds beef chuck, trimmed & cut into 2 inch pieces
olive oil
sea salt
granulated garlic powder
dried oregano
rendered, reserved bacon fat (can I pause to say, never never NEVER throw away your bacon fat. You paid for it. It is a powerhouse of flavor, and if you've purchased the good stuff, an excellent source of hormone- and antibiotic-free saturated fat. Pour it into a jar, keep it in the refrigerator with a date for reference.)
4-6 carrots, peeled and diced
4 stalks celery, diced
1 yam, peeled and diced
1 1/2 cups dry red wine
2 cups beef bone broth
1/4 cup almond meal
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
sea salt
fresh ground black pepper


1. I trimmed and cubed the meat on prep day (Sunday), and to help it keep until I made the stew, I tossed the meat in olive oil, salt, garlic powder, and some oregano before refrigerating. This is not a step I would recommend if you want optimal caramelization on the beef later (moist beef cubes won't caramelize as well as dry - haven't you seen Julie & Julia?) but in my opinion, marinating the beef really enhanced the flavor of the stew.

2. Assemble everything out on your counter, ready to hand. This is called your mise en place, everything in place. It is the single most important thing you can do to make cooking easier. Consider cooking the meal as a play, and all the ingredients are the actors. They need to be ready for their cues in make-up and costume. So chop your veggies, measure your wine and broth, et cetera, etc., and have them on your counter ready to go.

3. I had two pans heating on the stove on medium heat: a dutch oven, for the veggies and stew, and a ten-inch cast iron skillet for searing the beef cubes. Olive oil in the dutch oven, bacon fat in the skillet.

4. Saute the veggies in olive oil in the dutch oven over medium heat. Lower the heat if it is burning instead of browning. Stir just so the veggies don't burn.

5. Sear the beef cubes in bacon fat in the cast iron skillet over medium heat. Do not crowd the pan, please. It's tempting, as this part takes the most time, but it really is worth the restraint in the end! As the meat is done, place in a bowl off to the side. Once all the meat is seared, add it to the vegetables in the dutch oven.

6. Add the broth and wine to deglaze the dutch oven. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan with utensil of choice, to release all that lovely, lovely gunk, called fond. The fond, like bacon fat, contains massive amounts of flavor.

7. Mix in the almond meal and apple cider vinegar. Turn the heat to low or simmer, and allow the stew to stew for at least 2 1/2 hours.

8. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve and enjoy!

There you have it. Amazing, amazing beef stew. If you make this, let me know how it goes, what you changed, or what you think needs changed! I like feedback.


  1. Filing this away. MUST make soon, while it's still "Stew Weather".

  2. Now I've gotta go see if there's any beef on sale at the grocery! Wow. Salivating over this. Our weather is perfect for it, too. You are such a good food writer. Love it!