Well Fed's Cinnamon Beef Stew with Orange Gremolata
Stews are lovely because while they simmer, I forget that I'm the one who made them. When it's time to sit down and eat, I feel as if someone else cooked for me. What a treat! In this flavorful stew, the cinnamon and herbs create a mellow, earthy gravy that's a foil for the bright, tart taste of the orange gremolata on top. It's sophisticated comfort food.
- 2-3 pounds beef stew meat cut into 1-inch cubes
- salt and black pepper, to taste
- 3 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 medium carrot peeled and finely chopped (about ¼ cup)
- 1 medium onion diced (about 1 cup)
- 1 medium celery stalk finely chopped (about ¼ cup)
- 2 garlic cloves minced (about 2 teaspoons)
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- ½ cup beef broth
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 3-5 cups water
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary (or ½ teaspoon dried)
- 1 sprig fresh thyme (or ½ teaspoon dried)
- 1 sprig fresh sage (or ½ teaspoon dried)
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- extra-virgin olive oil for garnish (optional)
- ½ 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)
- ½ tsp rose water
- 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, sauté 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, he 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 s soupy stew, but if the stew start to dry out, ad more water, about ½ 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 alight 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. Well Fed (page 65)