When I do feel my body needing beef, I go out of my way to make sure that I satiate the craving with local, organic, humanely-raised beef, in a minimal quantity. Not only does this meat taste better, consuming it sits better with me politically (yes, I'm one of those people, but I think you already knew that). I often turn to a beautiful publication called Edible Boston to get dialed into local purveyors and producers of food in our community. It was in the fall edition of Edible Boston that I came upon the most incredible recipe for beef stew.
This recipe comes from Boston local farm manager and author Diana Rodgers, who happens to follow the "Paleo diet". This diet is based on the presumed ancient diet of wild plants and animals that early humans consumed during the Paleolithic era, and consists mainly of grass-fed pasture-raised meats, fish, vegetables, fruit, roots, and nuts, and excludes grains, legumes, dairy products, salt, refined sugar, and processed oils. Hardcore. The funny thing is that in this article Rodgers describes several symptoms (regular sluggishness, digestive issues, blood sugar plummets), that were resolved for her once she started eating like a caveman. The physical phenomenon she evokes is so similar to what I experience with my red meat infusions that I knew I had to dive in and try the recipes that went along with the article.
|Photo via Diana Rodgers|
Dudes. This stew blew our minds. Our house smelled so insanely good while it was cooking that the hubs texted me specifically to inform me of the olfactory madness going on while I was out running errands. And the flavors. Mmmmm, speechless. I've never had something quite so warming and singularly satisfying. Between the fresh ginger, the Indian-inspired spices and the coconut, I must say that this stew is the culinary equivalent of a deep tissue massage followed by a long soak in a hot tub. After eating a bowl of this, I literally felt like I could bench press the car. Really.
On top of that, it was easy to prepare... just a small bit of chopping and maybe 30 minutes of active prep before popping it in the oven. I did have to invest in a $10 jar of coconut oil for this recipe, but after reading about the Paleo reasoning behind choosing this unprocessed, unrefined oil, I was sold anyway. Did you know most of oils we use are actually rancid by the time they hit our shelves, and devoid of any of the nutritional value of the plants from which they're derived? Coconut oil, besides being incredibly tasty, is nutritionally unsurpassed, and has a ton of uses for everything from beauty treatments to cooking projects.
All that is to say, this soup will be making a regular appearance on our menus throughout the winter. The flavor combination is downright dreamy, and the satiety and sense of well-being it provides in one simple bowl is remarkable. I'll definitely be serving this at many a dinner party to our carnivorous friends. I'm also thinking it is the perfect dish to bring to a new mama friend to rejuvenate her post-partum energy. Truly, this is a magical elixir. Finally, I'll add that I don't think you necessarily need to serve the stew with anything. I had a good-sized bowl and a glass of water for dinner and was absolutely stuffed. And the energy provided by this power dinner propelled me through eight hours of sleep, a four mile run and a trip to the playground before I had breakfast. Amazing. Maybe these Paleo peeps are onto something?
|Photo via Diana Rodgers|
By Diana Rodgers
This dish is warm and very rich. It will fill your house with the most amazing aroma for hours as it simmers in the oven. Feel free to add different vegetables during the last hour of cooking.
5 tablespoons coconut oil
3 pounds grass-fed beef for stew, cut into 1- to 2-inch
2 medium onions, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons ginger, minced
2 teaspoons coriander
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 cups beef broth
1 cinnamon stick
1 can coconut milk (Rodgers calls for full fat, I used light and it was still delicious)
6 carrots, peeled and diced
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro for garnish
1) Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
2) In a large Dutch oven, heat 3 tablespoons coconut oil and brown the beef chunks in small batches.
3) Remove the beef to a bowl and add the remaining coconut oil, onion, garlic, ginger and spices (including cinnamon stick). Cook for approximately 10 minutes, then return the beef and add broth. Bring to a simmer, then cover and place in the oven for about 3 hours. Check periodically to ensure there is enough liquid. If it looks dry, add a little water to cover.
4) After 3 hours, add the coconut milk and carrots. Replace cover and leave in oven for one more hour. Remove from heat and remove cinnamon stick. Salt and pepper to taste and serve, garnished with cilantro.
*Note: I was going out after prepping the stew, not to return until just before dinner, so I added the carrots and coconut milk with the broth and let it all simmer together for the full four hours. It was fantastic this way, but next time I'd like to try it per the recipe, as I'm sure the carrots retain more color and crispness...not sure what effect that timing has on the coconut milk...I'll report back!