When it gets really cold out, we sometimes slack off a bit. We might hit the snooze button a couple extra times or procrastinate when we have to do our chores. For me, my knife skills go down the drain as the temperature falls. My knife skills aren’t that great to begin with, but I can make pretty uniform slices for a gratin and I can even fillet a fish pretty well. But that’s for warm weather. In the cold, I put ingredients on the cutting board and bat them around with my knife as if they are little cat toys. Eventually, I notice that everything is a bit smaller than it was when I began and that seems to be good enough. Into the pot it goes!
I exaggerate a little of course but there are days when I don’t want to spend much time prepping. I noticed some stew meat at the farmer’s market from New York Beef. I like these folks because they like to talk about how their meat changes with the seasons. Sometimes the beef is better marbled than other times and sometimes there are cuts that seem to be especially good that very day. They also do a great job aging their steaks which makes the flavor of their beef even richer. I believe the stew meat is pieces of chuck but I’m not sure. This recipe can be made with most cuts although I would save the more pricey tenderloin and strip steak for a different dish.
I had no beef stock on the house but I had a batch of turkey stock in the freezer leftover from the holidays. If you’re using good quality poultry bones and trimmings, your stock will be plenty rich enough for the stew. I also had around a third of a bottle of red wine that needed to be used up. Good enough. Most of us have plenty of root vegetables available to us this time of year as well as good potatoes. If your farmer has turnips, go for it. If he or she has only celery root, that works well here too. Follow your farmer’s lead and get ready to do some sloppy prep work.
So with some grass-fed stew beef, some winter veggies, frozen stock, and some VERY poor knife skills, I knew I had a good cold weather meal in my future. When it warms up, I’ll be ready to chiffonade some basil, but until the temperature breaks 0 degrees, I’m happy hacking away.
Grass-Fed Beef Stew with Root Vegetables and Atrocious Knife Skills (Farmers Market Bill $15/6 servings = $2.50/serving)
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive or vegetable oil in a frying pan on high heat
Season around a pound of stew meat salt and pepper and dust with flour
Brown the meat for 2-3 minutes per side and transfer to a dutch oven (if necessary, brown the meat in batches to make sure it all gets good color)
Using poor knife skills, chop 1.5 pounds or so of carrots, turnips, onion, celery root, potatoes, and parsnips or any combination
Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan and brown veggies for 7 minutes or so stirring occasionally (they’ll pick up some of the meat flavors)
Transfer veggies to the dutch oven
Deglaze frying pan with 2 cups of stock and a cup of red wine, scrape the bottom of the pan to make sure you get the yummy bits
Pour stock/wine mixture into dutch oven with another 4 cups of stock
Add 3 bay leaves and 2-3 whole, peeled garlic cloves, and a hefty dose of salt and pepper
Simmer on stovetop over low to medium heat or place in oven at 200 degrees
Simmer uncovered for 3 hours or longer if you can
Taste again for seasoning and salt and pepper again if necessary
Serve with some toasted ciabatta
The leftovers are even better