Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Beautiful Food

Today is day 14 of my Whole 30. It's going great!
The first five days were a little tough but somewhere along the way things got better.
Still missing that glass of wine with dinner but Pelligrino is a fine substitute!

Amazingly, the Whole 30 has turned into a culinary adventure.
Beautiful dishes have been making their way from stove to table.

The first recipe in the Beautiful Food line up is:
  Cinnamon Beef Stew with Orange Gremolata. 
The recipe comes from my favorite cook book,
Well Fed by Melissa Joulwan. Melissa has just released Well Fed 2 and should be in my mailbox tomorrow!

The best word to describe this dish is 

Cinnamon Beef Stew with Orange Gremolata

2-3 pounds beef stew meet, cut into 1-inch cubes
salt and black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 medium carrot, peeled and finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
1 medium celery stalk, finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup beef broth
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3-5 cups water
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
1 sprig fresh rosemary (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
1 sprig fresh thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
1 sprig fresh sage (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
2 cinnamon sticks
extra-virgin olive oil, for garnish (optional)

Orange Gremolata:
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, finely minced (about 2 tablespoons) 
zest from 1 orange (about 2 tablespoons)
leaves from 1 sprig fresh thyme (1/2 teaspoon dried)
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
1/2 teaspoon rose water (optional)

Sprinkle the beef generously with salt and pepper. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat, then add the meat in batches and sear on all sides. It's important that you don't crowd the pan. The meat needs air around it to achieve a crisp brown crust. With tongs or a slotted spoon, remove the browned pieces to a bowl to catch their juice. Repeat with the remaining cubes.

In the same pot, saute the chopped carrot, onion, celery, and garlic for about 2 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon. Add the tomato paste and stir for about 1 minute.

Deglaze the pan. Which is just a cook's way to say: Add the broth and vinegar, then stir with passion, scraping up all the wonderful brown bits at the bottom of the pan. Keep stirring until the mixture starts to thicken.

Put the meat and its drippings back into the pot. Add 3 cups water, 2 teaspoons salt, a healthy dose of pepper, the bay leaves, rosemary, thyme, sage, and cinnamon sticks.

Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer with the pot only partially covered for about 90 minutes. This is not a soupy stew but if the stew starts to dry out, add more water, about 1/2 cup at a time. Simmer until the meat is fall-apart tender and the liquid in the pan has been reduced to gravy-like status.

During the last 15 minutes of stew cooking time, make the gremolata. In a small bowl, mix the parsley, orange zest, thyme, garlic, and rose water.

Remove the cinnamon sticks and herb stems from the stew pot. Ladle the stew into deep bowls and top with a few pinches of orange gremolata. Bonus points if you also add a light drizzle of olive oil.

*Eat the orange gremolata immediately to enjoy the full effects of the aromatic orange oils. It will keep in the refrigerator  for a few days, but it's best when it's fresh.

Miller Addition: I threw a sweet potato in the microwave for about 5 minutes (until tender), cut it in half, scooped out the flesh and mashed it with a fork. This was added to the bottom of the bowl and the stew put on top. It was a fantastic addition to this awesome recipe!


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