Stew is a catch-all term for solid ingredients cooked in liquid. It’s one of the most ancient forms of cooking, and it’s no surprise that the concept is often associated with comfort foods. After all, stews are irreversibly linked to human survival; they make raw foods edible and tough meats tender. The first cooking tools used to make stews were likely animal hides. Turtle and mollusc shells were also used as ancient cookware.
- 1 kg beef chuck steak, or similar, cut into 4 cm cubes
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp black pepper, ground
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ cup red wine
- 1 cup beef stock or broth
- 1 cup chicken stock or broth
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 large creamy potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
- 2 carrots, cut into bite-sized chunks
- 1 parsnip, cut into bite-sized chunks
- ½ cup frozen peas
- ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Season the meat with salt and pepper. In a thick ceramic or cast-iron pot, heat the oil on medium until shimmering, about 2 minutes. Add the meat and brown, in batches if needed, turning every few minutes. Set the browned meat aside.
Preheat the oven to 150°C. Add the onion to the same pot and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for another 30 seconds, then add the beef and its accumulated juices, wine, broths, thyme, and bay leaves. Add more broth if needed to mostly cover the beef. Bring to a simmer, cover, and put in the oven to roast for 1 hour 15 minutes.
Add the potatoes, carrots, and parsnip to the pot. Roast for another 40 minutes, until the vegetables and meat are tender. Remove from the oven, uncover, and place on the stovetop to simmer on low heat as you prepare the vegetable puree below; discard the bay leaves.
Using a ladle or large spoon, remove some of the potatoes, carrots, and parsnips, about 1 cup total, and ½ cup of the broth, place in a glass bowl and blend into a smooth puree. Return it to the pot, stirring until thick, about 1 minute. Carefully stir in the peas, then cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste, garnish with fresh parsley, and serve.
• This stew recipe has no direct point of origin, although it is not dissimilar to many European stews, like the French pot-au-feu. It can be made with beef or lamb.
Recipe from The Ancestral Table: Traditional Recipes for a Paleo Lifestyle by Russ Crandall, with photographs by Russ Crandall (Victory Belt Publishing, $34.95).