Hearty Cold Weather Stews!
We buy our beef from Michael Evenson, a California cattleman who keeps a small, humanely raised, pastured herd of cows that graze on a windy bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean on the northern coast. It doesn’t taste like beef as we’ve come to know it. Michael’s beef tastes rich and wild. It reminds us of the wild elk Steve’s dad hunts in Idaho. Michael’s cattle produce meat that is just a bit leaner, but the fat is rich and flavorful and free of antibiotics and hormones.
The Boeuf Bourguignon you see pictured here is Jason’s take on Julia Child’s classic recipe. It was perfect. We lucked out when we thawed a large rump roast (Julia’s first choice cut for the recipe) we’d been saving for just the right occasion. We used half of the monster roast to make shredded beef tacos. The other half became the most delicious beef stew I’ve ever tasted. Here it’s served over buttered pappardelle and finished with a dusting of chopped parsley.
Recreating Julia’s recipe here isn’t happening. But we’re happy to share this link to the recipe, offered at no cost by Julia’s publisher, Knopf Doubleday. Don’t be afraid of it. The finished product is worth every step.
Boeuf Bourguignon can’t be beat, but it isn’t an every week kind of recipe for most of us. We discovered this Bon Appetit stew recipe years ago on epicurious.com. It’s now a standard and we cook it often. The original recipe calls for lamb, shiitake mushrooms and Chianti. But we’ve adapted it to suit our tastes by using beef or wild Idaho elk, a variety of mushrooms and whatever non-oaky red wine we have on hand. The meat is the star of this dish, but flourishes of orange zest and kalamata olives make this savory simple stew worthy of any home cook’s repertoire.
Beef and Mushroom Stew with Tomato-Red Wine Sauce
1 pound beef or other red meat, cut into ¾-inch cubes
6 ounces fresh mushrooms (shiitaki, button, crimini) stemmed, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 3X1/2-inch strips fresh orange peel (orange part only)
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 14 ½-ounce can whole, peeled tomatoes
1 cup red wine (preferably one that hasn’t spent a lot of time on oak)
10 or so kalamata olives, pitted and halved
Heat the olive oil in a heavy large pot over high heat. Sprinkle the meat with salt and pepper and add to the pot. Saute meat until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Cook meat in batches to avoid steaming. Add mushrooms, onions, orange peel, garlic and rosemary. Saute until onion is golden, about 5 minutes. Crush tomatoes and add to pot with their juices and the wine. Bring the stew to a boil then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the meat is tender, about an hour and a half. Add olives and simmer uncovered while sauce thickens, about 5 more minutes. Adjust seasoning and serve with your favorite starch. The original recipe recommends serving over orzo. It’s a terrific choice as is pappardelle, polenta, mashed potatoes, rice and grilled or toasted bread. It keeps well, tastes better as it ages over a couple of days and freezes for quick dinners later.
Like nearly every other “classic” recipe, beef stew is more a concept than a set of rules. Browning then braising, seasoning and serving – nothing could be simpler but the idea is to create big flavors. Experiment and see for yourself just how malleable the dish can be. Make it your own.
Steve & Jason