Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Fall is here! Beef and Golden Beet Stew with Gnocchi

Don't worry about exact measurements here, to be honest I didn't actually measure out the chopped vegetables or meat, so you can play around with those amounts and it won't really matter, but I would err on the side of too much on the vegetables rather than too little. When they are chopped finely like this, they melt into the stew and become a thick comforting gravy, perfect for a chilly fall Sunday evening.


1 1/2 to 2 pounds beef stew meat, cubed (chuck roast is good)
1/2 bottle red wine
5 small golden beets
1/3 cup flour for dusting on the meat.
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup finely chopped  fennel bulb
1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 heaping tablespoon herbs de Provence
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper
2 bay leaves
1 package of gnocchi, or make your own homemade recipe

In your stew pot, heat up two of the tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat, then brown up the stew meat chunks that you've already dusted with flour.  This will take a few minutes, and hopefully you'll get lots of good brown stuff stuck to the bottom of the pan. When the meat is browned on most sides, dump it out on a plate and use about a cup of the wine to de-glaze the pan for one minute, still on medium-high heat, using a wooden spoon to scrape up all the crusty brown bits on the bottom.

Turn down the heat to a low simmer, and put the meat back in the pot, along with a teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of pepper and the dried herbs.

While the meat gets started simmering in that cup of wine, you can chop up the onion, celery, carrots and fennel, and then saute them in a separate frying  pan with the other two tablespoons of olive oil, on high heat. Add the other teaspoon of salt and pepper to these veggies and stir them around occasionally. 

After about five minutes of cooking, when you see some brown edges on the veggies, add some of the wine, a few splashes at a time, so that it evaporates as it goes and get absorbed into the veggies, use about a half cup of wine total for this part. 

Turn off the heat when all of the liquid is absorbed and the veggies look soft and yummy. Doing this separate step, instead of just throwing the raw vegetables in, is the difference between. "Mmm, good stew." and "Wow, this is so good!"

With the beets, just use a paring knife to kind of "give them a shave," just scrape the outsides to clean them up a bit, don't peel them like a potato.  

Just before adding the water and bay leaves
Quarter them and add them to the stew, along with the chopped veggies that you just cooked, and the bay leaves. 

Add enough warm water to cover the ingredients, then cover the stew and simmer on very low (just a few slow bubbles) for one hour. After  one hour, tilt the lid so it's partially open, and cook for another hour.

After the two hours, dump in your dried gnocchi packet and stir, then turn heat up to a brisk simmer and cook for about three minutes or until gnocchi is done. 

If you are making homemade gnocchi or paleo sweet potato gnocchi, just follow the recipe cooking instructions and serve the stew over them instead of mixing them in to cook.

I recommend a Tempranillo or red Zinfandel wine with this.