The continued cold weather here in Southern California prompted me to make a warming stew for dinner recently. My husband and I, as a rule, try to stay away from starchy root vegetables like potatoes which are a traditional base in stews, so for this dish, I modified a recipe from my Mayo Clinic Cookbook to fit our needs. The results were delicious, and oh, so warm! You can find the original recipe here.
- 1/4 c almond meal, for dredging
- 1 pound boneless lean beef stew meat, trimmed of visible fat and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil or canola oil
- 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced vertically
- 2 large shallots, chopped
- 1/2 large onion, cut into thin wedges
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 fresh thyme sprigs
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 4 large carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1 bunch swiss chard, stalk removed, leaves torn
- 1 container crimini mushrooms, quartered
- 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
- Place the almond meal on a plate. Dredge the beef cubes in the almond meal. In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the beef and cook, turning as needed, until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Remove the beef from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside. If using almond meal instead of flour, you’ll want to scrape the almond meal from the bottom of the pan before proceeding or it will burn (absolute blasphemy to throw away the browned bits, I know! To avoid this, just use flour).
- Add the fennel, onion and shallots to the pan over medium heat and saute until softened and lightly golden, 7 to 8 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper, the thyme sprigs and the bay leaf.
Saute for 1 minute. Return the beef to the pan and add the vegetable stock and the wine, if using. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer gently until the meat is tender, ~45 minutes.
- Add the carrots and mushrooms. The liquid will not cover the vegetables completely, but more liquid will accumulate as the mushrooms soften. Simmer gently until the vegetables are tender, about 25 minutes longer. Add the swiss chard and simmer for 5-10 minutes, until wilted. Discard the thyme sprigs and bay leaf. Stir in the parsley and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Ladle into warmed individual bowls and serve immediately.