Grass Fed Gluten-Free Beef Stew

 

Gluten-free Beef Stew

 

I really wanted to do a post on the soap I just made yesterday.  Alas, I could not find the USB cord to upload my pictures to the computer.  This place is a disaster and it could be anywhere.  So, I figured I should blog on some of the food I’ve been making, but haven’t had the time to write about.

One of the things I love about stews and soups is you can throw things in a pot or slow cooker and leave it.  If you are cooking it on the stove, you will have to check on it occasionally.  You can also throw pretty much anything you want in there.  What I really love is when I use potatoes and it cooks long enough, the starch from it ends up thickening the stew on its own.

The Whole Foods near us carries “local” grass-fed beef.  I say “local” because it really comes from Georgia.  For some reason they consider that local.  I don’t, but oh well.  It’s still grass-fed.  I bought some beef for stew since it had been a while.

Gluten-Free Beef Stew

1 pound beef cut into chunks (or bought pre-cut)

1 onion chopped

2 potatoes, diced

1 kabocha squash, diced (skin on)

3 tomatoes, diced

4 cups gluten-free beef broth

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons arrowroot + water for slurry

herbs, salt and pepper to taste

1 1/2 cups frozen peas

Brown the beef in a pan and then place in a large pot or slow cooker.  Add all the ingredients but the arrowroot slurry, salt, and peas.  I use an herb mix my best friend’s mother gave me.  If I don’t use it, I like to use a mix of thyme, sage, and savory.   Let the stew simmer for 2-3 hours, longer if in the slow cooker.  If the potato starch didn’t thicken the stew, make a slurry with the arrowroot and water.  Stir the stew while adding the slurry to prevent clumping.  Add salt to taste.  The last 5 minutes of cooking, add the frozen peas.  If using fresh peas, add them in the last 15-20 minutes.  This late addition helps prevent the peas from overcooking (which I find key to getting me to actually eat peas).

 

Chili Takes The Chill Off

 

My version of my Papa's chili

 

One of the great traditions I grew up with was Papa’s chili.  Every year that we visited for New Years we’d go across the street to the family friends’ for their New Years Eve party.  As I grew older I was more able to appreciate the games the adults played like Pass The Scissors and Sweep The Corn.  It was a special time as I realized it wasn’t just a party, it was a gathering of friends and family to bring in the new year.

The next day was even more special.  Papa would fix a huge stockpot full of chili.  By huge I mean, his stockpot was twice maybe three times the size of mine.  As an adult, I had to get on my toes just to be able to peer in to the pot and I”m 5’2″.  The day passed with us asking many times over, “Is it ready yet?”  The anticipation wore at our patience, as did the smell.  This was love.  Papa didn’t have many dishes he cooked for all of us.  At the stove at least.  He’d happily grill a steak for us.  But this was a day long affair of browning the meat, stirring the chili, and letting it slowly simmer for hours.  Papa wasn’t the most patient of people when it came to food.  I heard from him more than once, “Where’s my dinner, Marie?”  And yes, sometimes he was sitting at the table fork in hand.  This is what made the chili even better.

Papa always had a sleeve of saltine crackers next to his bowl.  He’d crush a handful up in the chili and mix it in.  Good stuff I’m tellin’  yea.  Granny always made sure to make some rice for us, too.  It was a rough decision.  Do I eat it with crackers or rice?  I once tried it with both and it just wasn’t the same.  The last time I had Papa’s chili made by him with help from my husband and Uncle was in 2000.  We were all visiting for Christmas and he went ahead and made the chili before New Years.  It was a special occasion after all.  By this time, he was legally blind and suffering from Parkinson’s, as well as a suspected minor stroke (the latter Granny confessed to me later when she and I were playing chess away from prying ears) which is why he received help.  He never let anyone help and protected his treasured recipe for many years.

One time in college, my grandparents either called me or I called them, I can’t remember which.  Chili came up in the conversation and Papa gave me the beloved and much coveted recipe.  I felt special being the first one to whom he imparted the recipe.  My mother and aunties weren’t so happy about it.  My mother tried to repeatedly convince me to give her the recipe.  I promised Papa I wouldn’t give it to anyone and I kept that promise.  Years later, he eventually gave them the recipe, too.

As I have done with so many recipes, I eventually made his recipe my own.  Instead of just using kidney beans, I use a mix of kidney, pinto, and cannelini beans.  I also use more spices than he did.  He used a mix of ground meat and I use just ground beef.  I always alternated between using flour to thicken the chili like he did and using cornstarch.  My husband likes when I use flour because it is thicker.   The picture above was from our New Years Day party this year.  I used cornstarch this year because I was expecting a friend with Celiac to be there (I made a flourless chocolate cake that he loves, too).  This was 2 months before I went gluten-free.  However I make the chili, it’s one that always gets compliments.  My last New Years in Hawai`i before moving to Kentucky I made the traditional pot of chili and had friends over.  One friend showed up hungover and looking like he slept on the street.  After eating he declared it a hangover cure.  I once told that story to a friend who came to our New Years parties in Louisville and she dubbed it “Hangover Chili.”  She even asked if we were having Hangover Chili the day after Derby.  No such luck for her.

 

Black, pinto & kidney beans

 

Recent years have seen me use dried beans instead of canned.  Not only are they cheaper, they have more flavor.  At least for me.  Last week I decided I wanted some chili even though it was in the 70s.  I didn’t realize it was going to get that warm when I planned the menu.  I had to do a quick soak of the beans because I forgot to soak them the night before.  It struck me before I had them covered in hot water that I chose a mix that looked red, white, and blue (sort of) on Veteran’s Day of all days.  Semper fi, Papa!

I also decided to experiment with a veggie chili after enjoying Carrie’s Black Bean and Butternut Squash Chili.  I enjoyed the heartiness the addition of the veggies made to the chili making it a real comfort food and giving it more substance to take the chill off on cold days as well as keep you full.  I used kabocha squash in this one.  Squash in chili is still weird for my husband.  As he said when I asked how it was, “It’s not bad.  I’m just not used to it.”  I’m not either, but I’m thinking kabocha is pretty awesome in chili now.

 

Veggie Chili

 

Debi’s Gluten-Free Veggie Chili

1 cup dried beans, soaked & drained

1 cup – 1 1/2 cups ketchup

4 cups + 2 cups water

2 tablespoons cumin

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 teaspoon cayenne

1 small onion, diced

3 tomatoes, rough chopped

1 medium zucchini quartered and sliced about 1/2″

2 yellow peppers, large dice

1 small or 1/2 large kabocha squash (skin left on), large dice

2 tablespoons cornstarch

salt to taste

Combine beans, ketchup, 4 cups water, cumin, chili powder, & cayenne in a large pot.  Simmer for 1 1/2 hours.  Add onions & tomatoes and simmer another hour, at least.  Add remaining veggies.  Make a slurry with the cornstarch and 2 cups water and add to the chili.  Stir well and simmer another hour.   Salt to taste before serving.

While I haven’t really looked for a gluten-free cracker to eat in my chili I served it over brown rice.  I enjoy Mary’s Gone Crackers, but I don’t have an inclination to find something more processed like the saltines or soda crackers I used to eat.  I still make every attempt to make my meals whole food and gluten-free friendly.

Sweet Adaptation

Our new living & dining room

My head is full of a running to do list.  Things that need to be done in the next few days before the movers get here.  I thought about not blogging until everything is done and we are fully into our new place, but I blogging has become a bit of a retreat for me.  I can put away that running mental to do list and focus on something completely different for a while.  It’s also giving me a break from all the packing.  How did we accumulate so much stuff?  We’ve gotten rid of a lot through donating to Goodwill and through Freecycle.  The packing just seems never-ending right now.

I’m trying to go through all the food in our fridge and freezer to make sure it gets used up so we have less to pack in the cooler Tuesday morning.  I don’t know about you, but we’ve gotten a lot of different types of squash lately from our CSA and all the bloggers I like to follow are posting lots of recipes I want to try out.  Plus, two of them recently posted different ways to roast squash whole.  Well, duh, that IS easier isn’t it?  Why didn’t anyone tell me about that before?

I digress.  It’s the exhaustion from the packing typing.

Coriander Kabocha

Amy Green of Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free had a guest blog post from Alisa Fleming of One Frugal Foodie.  Alisa shared her recipe for Quick Asian-Spiced Kabocha.  I was immediately drawn in.  I love kabocha.  To me it’s like a blend of squash and sweet potato.  It’s a little denser than most squashes, has the texture close to a potato when cooked and is sweeter than most squashes.  I even roasted the dirty seeds after I cleaned it out.  It was a nice little appetizer before dinner.  I fully intended to follow her recipe to the letter.  However, as I was looking in my cupboard I realized I was out of wheat-free tamari.  This was life’s way of reminding me that the flavor profile probably wouldn’t fit too well with my Lemon Rosemary Chicken.  What I came up with was and adaptation of her recipe using the same amount of water, maple syrup instead of the evaporated cane juice or palm sugar, and coriander instead of the other spices.  I really had no idea if my adaptation would work.  The result was a slightly sweet and rich accompaniment to the chicken.  I only stirred it once after adding everything to the pan and the sides that were touching the bottom were slightly caramelized.

Coriander Kabocha (serves 2) – adapted from Alisa Fleming’s Quick Asian-Spiced Kabocha

1 kabocha, chopped

1/3 cup water

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 1/2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

Add all ingredients to a pan/skillet and stir.  Cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until the kabocha is fork tender.

When I was cleaning up the kitchen later, I discovered that I did have wheat-free tamari.  It was hiding on one of the kitchen counters.   Have I mentioned I’m in the midst of moving madness?  Boy, did I feel like a dork when I found it.  It’s okay though.  I still intend to fix Alisa’s recipe once I have more kabocha.

Spiced Sweet Potatoes 'N Apples

I enjoyed my adaptation so much I was thinking of how I could do something similar with sweet potatoes.  Ideas started rumbling around in my head.  Maple syrup.  Apples.  Cinnamon.  Ginger.  Cloves.  Ah, yes.  10 minutes into cooking, I dropped the packing I was doing and went to the kitchen to check on it because it smelled so good.  Surely it’s done after 10 minutes, right?  Wrong.  Once it was done, it was a food marriage made in heaven.  I think I will make this for Thanksgiving.

Spiced Sweet Potatoes ‘N Apples (serves 2)

1 large sweet potato, peeled, chopped

1 large apple, core removed, chopped (skin on)

1 cup water

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Add all ingredients to a pan/skillet and stir gently.  Cover and simmer for 40 minutes or until sweet potatoes are fork tender.

I have to caution you.  If you try these recipes you may want to eat both servings in one sitting.  I know I did.  I fought the temptation, though!

Now, back to packing and letting that mental to do list run wild.

Addendum: I am SO embarrassed.  This is what I get for trying to keep up with blogging while packing for a big move.  I used CORIANDER not cardamom.  I’ve changed the recipe to reflect what I really used.  If you made this with cardamom and it turned out horrible, my sincere apologies.  If you loved it, well then my mistake was your gain!   I do love using cardamom though and will share other dishes I use it in in the future.

This post is linked to Seasonal Sunday at Real Sustenance.