I flip my face to the other side of a too-thin pillow, a smushed pancake of sleep resting on the crook of the elbow I’m using to hold my head aloft. My hand is, predictably, numb. But that’s not what woke me.
Tilting my head, I search for voices, either raised & unrepentant or muffled & restrained. Instead, I hear the kind of silence that seeps into my eyeballs after staring too hard in the dark. My less-numb hand fumbles for the clock.
Not liking the obscene hour mooning up at me, I starfish onto my back with a groan.
That’s when my nose prickles. I stifle a laugh, imagining the expression my little ginger cat makes when she’s looking for food superimposed on my own face.
This time I breathe more deeply & my stomach flip-flops, dreaming of food. Then the part of my brain that should probably have kicked in earlier realizes that the charred scent in my nose is alive, with an acrid sidekick that can only mean the idiot has set himself on fire again.
Part of me considers staying right where I am, taking the risk that they’ll put it out without me for once. I am so very tired.
And then I’m propelled out of my bed by the thought of my siblings in the room next to the most likely source of the flames, at the end of this cramped hallway.
Where first? Last time it was the laundry pile that he obliterated with his sleep-smoked cigarette. Sometimes it’s the armchair that he’s still slumped in like a greasy takeaway bag, empty cans strewn around his feet like naan crumbs.
This time, it’s the bedroom at the far end of this ever expanding hallway that seems to take longer to run each time.
My baby brother busts through his own door. He is a specter, eyes wide-drawn and unseeing, while every particle of his pale, night-lit body sends him like a firecracker, fuse-lit, towards a door he cannot unlock. He explodes, yanking the locks free. The door lets in a waft of clean, then ricochets as it hits the end of the security chain.
I sigh. My first unofficial duty on fire-nights isn’t putting out the flames. It’s making sure these regular near death experiences aren’t noticed by neighbors.
Turning towards the burning bedroom, I wish I were dreaming about food after all.Print
Classic & Cosy Weekend Beef Stew
If you love a cozy, craveable one pot meal but don’t want to babysit it on the stove top, this classic weekend beef stew is the recipe for you!
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 3 hours 15 minutes
- Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
- Yield: Makes about 10 cups / Serves 6 - 8 1x
- Category: one pot
- Method: oven
- Cuisine: Gluten Free, Paleo, Whole30
- 2 1/2 lbs / 1.2 kg stew beef, or cubed chuck roast
- 2 tbsp / 30 ml avocado oil
- 1 tsp / 5 g fine sea salt
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 ribs celery, diced
- 1 large carrot, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp / 15 ml tomato paste or concentrate
- 1 cup / 240 ml red wine
- 6 cups / 1440 ml broth, divided, see notes
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 large sprig of rosemary
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 2 tbsp / 30 ml red wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp / 15 ml coconut aminos
- 1 tsp / 5 ml fish sauce
- 2 large carrots, peeled & chopped into half inch slices
- 1 lb / 454 g russet potatoes, peeled & chopped into bite size pieces
SEAR: Check over the stew beef and trim off any excess fat. Heat a cast iron skillet or similar over moderate high heat, then add the oil & watch for it to shimmer. Sprinkle the stew beef with salt and then, working in batches, brown it evenly on at least two sides. Let the beef develop a rich, deep color before turning it over and repeating. When the beef has a nice crust all over, remove it from the heat and place it in the bottom of a dutch oven or similar pot with a lid. When you’re done, there should be a deeply hued layer of beef juices on the bottom of your skillet: this is good!
SOFTEN: Add the diced onion, celery & carrot to the skillet and reduce the heat so that the vegetables will start to cook, but not brown. Stir the vegetables as they start to sweat & release some of their moisture. As you stir, you will see some of the browned bits from the skillet release and coat the vegetables so that they darken in color. Cook until the onion has just begun so soften, about 10 minutes or so, then stir through the garlic and cook until fragrant.
DEEPEN: Preheat the oven to 300 F / 150 C and if needed, lower the oven rack so that there is enough room for the dutch oven to fit with its lid on. Scoot the vegetables aside in a spot and add the tomato paste, stirring it through the vegetables with a spatula for 30 seconds or so. Next, pour in the red wine and stir until any of the last browned bits on the bottom of the skillet release. Carefully transfer all of this goodness to the dutch oven, along with the beef. Pour 4 cups / 960 milliliters of the broth, reserving the rest for later, into the dutch oven, then add the bay leaves, rosemary, black pepper and thyme.
COOK: Place the dutch oven on the stove top over medium heat and bring to a simmer, uncovered. Pop the lid on the dutch oven and cook for 1 hour and 30 minutes, checking on it occasionally to make sure it is simmering but not boiling. If the stew gets a little over vigorous at any point, crack the lid slightly and / or reduce the heat a little.
THICKEN: Remove the stew from the oven and use tongs to pull out and discard the rosemary & bay leaves. Carefully transfer about 2 cups / 480 ml of the stewing liquid and vegetables to a blender. Blend until smooth, then return the blended vegetables to the pot and stir through. Now add the red wine vinegar, coconut aminos, fish sauce and chopped carrots and potatoes, along with the remaining 2 cups / 480 ml of broth. This should add enough liquid to just cover the vegetables. Taste and add any additional salt if you like.
FINISH: Put the lid back on and slide the dutch oven back into the oven. Cook for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and cook until the vegetables are as tender as you like, about another 30 minutes for them to have some bite and up to 45 minutes if you like them on the softer side. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
- If you have homemade beef broth, this is the perfect place for it! Otherwise, I usually make my slow cooked beef dishes with chicken broth, homemade or store bought. The real “beefy” flavor will come from your sear on the meat and making sure to develop and de-glaze the fond on the bottom of the pan.
- Tomato paste and potatoes are Stage 4 AIP reintroductions. You can omit the tomato paste and swap the potatoes for white sweet potatoes, parsnips or turnips to make this recipe Elimination Phase friendly.