Beef stew (with love from France)

January 2, 2010

My apologies for taking so long to post another recipe. We moved a couple of times toward the end of 2009, most recently to a town near Paris, France to attend a French language school. We are living in something of a family style dorm and I have a small kitchenette with limited tools to cook our meals. I am not sure what the next year holds for us in terms of culinary adventures, with the use of two electric burners, a tiny refrigerator and a small oven hanging near my head. But thank goodness I cannot eat gluten! I cannot resort to packaged convenience meals…my family will have real vegetables.

I was delighted by the food selection at the discount grocer a couple blocks from our apartment today. Some things, like peanut butter, were conspicuously absent from the shelves. But when I quickly realized that I had an excuse to eat Nutella, a delicious chocolaty spread, on my gluten free bread, I got over my loss of peanut butter. I have yet to determine where I will find gluten free flours, but there are several grocery stores I still have not visited. Tomatoes, leeks, shallots and olive oil were a much better price and quality than I usually encountered in the States, and so I was inspired to make the stew below.

Ideally, you would brown the meat in a dutch oven and slow cook the stew in the oven. But as this is not an option for me, I browned and simmered the stew in a pot on the stove. This is another no measuring allowed recipe. Just sprinkle and taste until you are satisfied. I used white wine and white balsamic vinegar as it was what I had on hand, but red for both would be wonderful and maybe preferable depending on your tastes. Bon appetit!

  • 1 ½ – 2 lb beef stew meat
  • olive oil
  • 1 medium to large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 5 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 large leek, white and yellow part only, rinsed and sliced.
  • 5 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 4 or 5 medium yellow potatoes, scrubbed and cut into chunks
  • 1 14.5z can of stewed tomatoes
  • white balsamic vinegar (or red)
  • 2 cubes of beef bouillon (gluten-free, *optional)
  • 1 bottle of dry white wine (or red)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • herbes de Provence, or thyme

Pat your stew meat dry with a paper towel or two so that it will brown nicely. Drizzle a little olive oil in the bottom of a dutch oven or large stew pot, enough to lightly coat the bottom. Heat the oil over medium high heat until hot. Drop the beef into the pot, sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and brown on all sides. Remove the stew meat to a plate. Add the diced yellow onion, shallots, garlic, leeks and a little more salt and pepper to the hot oil in the pot and cook over medium to medium high heat until the onions are translucent. Add the carrots, yellow potatoes, stewed tomatoes, a drizzle or two of balsamic vinegar (maybe a tablespoon?) and a good sprinkling of the herbes de Provence. Stir to combine. Add the browned stew meat back into the pot, the beef bouillon if desired and the bottle of wine. Simmer on low heat with lid ajar for about 2 hours. Taste to see if the stew needs additional salt and adjust accordingly.

Serve over steamed white rice or with some fresh gluten-free bread.

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