My family recently purchased a share of local, grass fed beef, and I am always trying to come up with new ways to serve old favorites. While traditional beef stew is a loved by everyone in my family, I decided to turn it on its head, by creating a winter version that does not use potatoes or tomatoes. The resulting stew is a study in contrasts – bright citrus providing acidity, and a touch of sweetness, while dark spices (star anise, black cardamom, whole allspice) ground it in earthy flavors. Shiitake ups the umami, while porter and kumquats provide a bitter bridge that brings everything together. —gingerroot
Extra virgin olive oil
beef stew meat (I used chuck), preferably grass fed, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1-1 1/2 inch pieces (my children prefer the meat to be on the smaller side, feel free to cut larger pieces, keeping in mind that your cook time might be longer)
large onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups
spice bundle with 1 star anise pod, 2 black cardamom pods, ½ t whole allspice placed in the center of a square piece of cheesecloth and tied with kitchen twine
med-large carrots, peeled, sliced on the bias (about 3 cups)
celery root (about a pound) thoroughly scrubbed, peeled, trimmed and chopped into ½ inch pieces
large garlic cloves, peeled, trimmed, smashed with the flat side of a large knife
large juicy sweet orange (you’ll use the zest and juice see below)
Meyer lemon (you’ll use the zest)
cup porter beer (I like Sierra Nevada)
kumquats, washed, quartered and seeded
shiitake mushrooms, washed, stemmed and sliced
cornstarch + 3 t water for slurry (if desired)
Chopped cilantro for serving
In This Recipe
In a Dutch oven, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Pat meat dry with a paper towel. Add meat to pot in a single layer, making sure not to crowd the pieces. Season meat with a sprinkle of salt and a few grinds of pepper and cook, browning each side and turning, about 4 minutes. Transfer browned meat to a clean bowl. Repeat with remaining meat, about 4 minutes more, adding a bit more oil if necessary to prevent sticking.
Once you have browned all the meat, add a bit more oil to pan, and then add the chopped onions. Cook onions until they are fragrant and start to become translucent. If you find that your onions start to burn, add a splash of chicken stock. Return meat to pan. Add 1 ½ cups chicken stock and spice bundle. Cover pot, bring mixture to a boil and then reduce heat to low. Allow mixture to simmer for one hour.
Preheat oven to 400°F.
When beef-spice mixture has simmered for 50 minutes, get your root vegetables roasting. Place carrots and celery root on a large rimmed half sheet pan. Zest orange and lemon over vegetables on pan and season mixture with salt and a few good glugs of olive oil, and then toss to combine. Add smashed garlic cloves to pan as well. Roast until tender, about 20 minutes, shaking pan and tossing vegetables with a wooden spoon half way through. Slice your zested orange in half-crosswise, and then cut each half in two.
At 70 minutes, when your root vegetables are roasted, taste your meat; if you cut pieces into 1-inch cubes, they should be soft and tender. If they need a little more time, continue to simmer stew, checking after another 10. Once meat is tender, add roasted vegetables (be sure to scrape pan to get all the zest), porter, orange juice – squeeze the quarters right into the pot, prepared kumquats and shiitakes. Gently stir to combine. Cover pot, bring mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Allow stew to bubble away for 30-35 minutes more. Taste for salt and adjust as necessary. Stew sauce is on the thin side, so if you'd like a thicker sauce, make a cornstarch slurry and stir mixture into bubbling stew. Remove spice bundle and discard. Serve stew over rice with cilantro on top if desired. This is delicious immediately, but also excellent the next day. Enjoy!
Note: This can be made through step 2 one day ahead. Allow stew to cool slightly, cover and refrigerate overnight. When ready to finish stew, skim any excess fat before proceeding with step 3.
My most vivid childhood memories have to do with family and food. As a kid, I had the good fortune of having a mom who always encouraged trying new things, and two grandmothers who invited me into their kitchens at a young age. I enjoy cooking for the joy it brings me - sharing food with loved ones - and as a stress release. I turn to it equally during good times and bad. Now that I have two young children, I try to be conscientious about what we cook and eat. Right about the time I joined food52, I planted my first raised bed garden and joined a CSA; between the two I try to cook as sustainably and organically as I can. Although I'm usually cooking alone, my children are my favorite kitchen companions and I love cooking with them. I hope when they are grown they will look back fondly at our time spent in the kitchen, as they teach their loved ones about food-love.
Best of all, after years on the mainland for college and graduate school, I get to eat and cook and raise my children in my hometown of Honolulu, HI. When I'm not cooking, I am helping others grow their own organic food or teaching schoolchildren about art.