Guess what – some cooking actually happened this weekend!  Actually it was Friday.  After sitting in the ER all day with a friend I had promised myself some tasty sushi as a reward.  By the end of the day, I’d changed my tune.  Even huddled under my fleece jacket (and I was wearing layers, no ER novice, I) I was freezing!  Sushi just didn’t sound good anymore.  Instead, I finally got around to making a stew.  That poor stew beef had been sitting in the fridge for 3 days, and was about to get shoved in the deep freezer.  I kept meaning to make stew, but then finding some reason not to.  Friday night, I made it happen. 

Now, usually if I make a beef stew it’s topped with pastry.  Since I did not have the energy to even contemplate GF pastry, I decided a straight stew would be great.  Filled with potatoes and carrots, it would be cozy, warming, and filling.  I used a similar spice blend as I do in my Meat and Potato Pie, and added some nice red wine for extra richness.  It came out wonderfully, even though I wasn’t patient enough to let it simmer quite as long as it should have for really melt-in-your-mouth stew beef.  You could also throw it in the crockpot first thing in the morning, and then add the potatoes in when you get home from work. 

Beef Stew

1 1/2 lbs stew beef (I buy the pre-cut stuff because I’m lazy and cheap, but I do cut it up into slightly smaller pieces and trim the fat)
2 Tablespoons canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon garam masala
dash of cayenne
salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup dry red wine
4 cups beef broth (gluten-free, if necessary)
2-3 carrots, peeled and chopped (I used baby carrots I had on hand, and just cut them in half or thirds)
2 lbs red potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1 inch pieces

Cut the beef into bite-size pieces, season with salt and pepper.  Heat oil in a heavy dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Sear beef on all sides (you might need to do this in batches, it usually takes me at least 2 batches).  Set beef aside.  Add onion, saute until translucent.  Add garlic, saute for 1 or 2 minutes.  Be careful not to burn the garlic, as it will get bitter.  Add bay leaves and spices, stir until fragrant (it should smell heavenly at this point).  Pour in the red wine, and use a wooden spoon to scrape up all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  Return the beef to the pan, add the broth and carrots.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer.  Simmer, covered (if you want a really thick, gravy-like sauce you can simmer it uncovered – but keep in mind that it will reduce some when you add the potatoes) for at least an hour – the longer the better. 

Add in the potatoes, and return the stew to a boil.  Boil approximately 20 minutes, or until potatoes are fork tender.  Check the seasoning.  Adjust to taste.  Serve while still steaming, and watch people be happy.  This would be extra lovely with a nice crusty piece of bread for dipping.  I ate the final bowl of leftovers with a toasted slice of my very first gluten-free bread and it was quite yummy.

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