Where’s the beef? In a stew in my fridge.

Whole30: Day 11

Given all the crap I’m willingly putting myself through, I decided to make myself beef stew 1) because I’ve been making it since I was 12, and 2) because I can dammit.

My choices have been rather limited of late; no dairy, no booze, NO BREAD! After a week of freaking out about everything I make or consume, I figured I deserved something that I cook well and that I already know I enjoy. Unfortunately, most of my old-standbys involve truly spectacular amounts of cheese–I seriously add three times the recommended amount to any recipe.  Beef stew is a merciful exception.

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This stuff takes forever to cook, it is stew after all, but it’s pretty straightforward. It also gets a stronger flavor the longer it gets left to its own devices, so it makes KILLER leftovers–I’m a big fan of leftovers lately, though that now means I’m drowning in them (I could probably fill a bathtub at this point).

One thing I was worried about is cooking the beef. It’s the most important part of beef stew (obviously), and it’s a bit of a challenge to cook given Whole30’s restrictions: First the beef gets coated in flour, and then its browned in butter.

I can have neither of those things!

Luckily I found alternatives; I used ghee instead of regular butter, and (gulp) almond flour instead of regular flour.

Truth be told, I was SUPER skeptical about using almond flour; it’s just pulverized almonds, so it’s grittier than regular flour, and it’s not as dry. I was so severely worried about this flour, like, hover over the pot staring into it worried; I thought that the texturized flour  would have a PROFOUNDLY NEGATIVE effect on the finished product.

Hey, I’ve been conditioned to obsess over my food lately, what do you want from me?

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Mercifully, all it did was make the broth richer and a tiny bit grittier.

HUZZAHHHHHH! I can do some of the things that I used to do!

I now have a fridge full of beef stew, which I’m choosing to see as a good thing. Plus given that I used a slow cooker, the long cook time  meant I got to marathon more Buffy (season four this time, including the best finale ever).

Lessons Learned:

Ghee is the best thing ever.

Don’t be afraid of almond flour.

Beef stew fixes everything always.

Buffy Episodes Watched:

4.17 Superstar- High school nerd Jonathan is suddenly popular! Of course it’s magic.

4.18 Where the Wild Things Are- Buffy and hunky hunky boyfriend Riley get buuuuusy and *accidentally* charge supernatural forces that possess a frat house.

4.19 New Moon Rising- The AWOL Oz returns! He kinda sorta turns into a werewolf and scares the crap outta Tarra.

4.20 The Yoko Factor- Spike says very mean things and EVERYBODY STARTS FIGHTING. WAAAAAAH!

4.21 Primeval- Forces unite to stop a demon-human supermonster! Ass kicking ensues!

4.22 Restless- The gang has some SERIOUSLY nut-bar dreams; like, I thought my dreams were weird but theirs are just OFF THE RAILS CRAZY. Oh, and something’s trying to kill them (shocking).

Here’s the basic recipe, feel free to do your own thing:

2 lbs stew beef

1 large onion

8 oz pearl onions

8 oz russet potatoes

3 handfuls baby carrots

1 celery stalk

1-2 bay leaves

almond flour

cooking fat

boiling water

salt and pepper to taste

Rinse the beef and pat it dry with a paper towel, set aside. On a plate, pour out about 1/2 cup of flour (traditional white flour works best) add salt and pepper. Dredge stew beef in flour until it’s completely covered. In a large pot, melt 2-3 tbsp cooking fat (I used ghee), brown the floured beef in batches, removing it as it is finished so that it doesn’t burn. When beef is done, reduce heat and return all the meat to the pot. Add potatoes, carrots, celery, and 1 large chopped onion, bayleaves, salt and pepper. Submerge ingredients in boiling water, cover and let simmer about 60-90 minutes. Add smaller onions about a half hour before cooking is finished so that they do not dissolve.

Note: If you have a slow cooker, just dump everything right in and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours, leaving out the pearl onions until about an hour before the stew is done.

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