Monday, September 15, 2014

Beef Stew with Pearl Onions, Carrots, and Turnips with Carmelized Onion Gravy Over Thick Puree of Cauliflower and Parsnip

  • Three tablespoons olive oil
  • Three large yellow onions
  • Four slices bacon 
  • Two pounds boneless beef stew meat (I used beef ribs)
  • One 32 oz. box unsalted beef stock (or homemade if you are lucky enough to have some around)
  • Three bay leaves
  • One large or two medium turnips
  • Five medium carrots
  • One tablespoon olive oil
  • One 16 oz.bag frozen pearl onions 
  • One 16 oz. frozen peas
  • One large parsnip
  • One 16 oz bag frozen cauliflower
  • One quarter cup heavy cream
  • One tablespoon unsalted butter
Cut off ends of three yellow onions. Peel. Cut in half lengthwise, then thinly slice crosswise. Over medium high heat heat three tablespoons olive oil in large dutch oven or heavy bottomed soup pot. Add onion slices to hot oil. Cook until brown, stirring every three or four minutes. This will take about fifteen to twenty minutes.

Cut bacon crosswise into quarter inch lardons. In heavy skillet over medium high heat cook lardons until some of the fat renders, approximately three minutes. Add to browned onions in dutch oven. Cut beef into bite sized pieces, approx. 1/2 to 3/4 inch dice. Brown in batches n bacon fat. As each batch is finished, add to dutch oven. Turn heat off under skillet, but do not discard any leftover drippings.

When all meat has been added to the dutch oven, add the stock and bay leaves. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 and 1/2 hours.

While the dutch oven simmers,  cut off ends of carrots and turnips. Peel. Cut into 1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces.  I generally roll cut the carrots, and slice, then roughly chop the turnips to avoid symmetrical pieces. This is purely an aesthetic choice: it will have no effect on flavor.

Reheat the pan drippings from the bacon cooking/beef browning steps over medium high heat. If needed, add one tablespoon olive oil. When hot, about one minute, toss in the entire contents of the bag of frozen pearl onions. The moisture from these will help deglaze and loosen any luscious browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Scrape up all these bits and continue cooking the pearl onions until they are heated through and some are browned a tiny bit. This whole step will take about six minutes. After this, put all contents of the skillet into the dutch oven. Add the carrot and turnip pieces to the dutch oven as well. Stir and cover. This will cook about another thirty minutes before serving.

Peel parsnip and cut into one inch pieces. Put in microwave-safe two quart dish, add about an inch of water, and cover. Microwave on high for five minutes. Once done, add contents of bag of frozen cauliflower. Cover and microwave on high for another six minutes.  Once this is done, uncover and let cool two minutes. Drain. Put cooked parsnips and cauliflower into food processor. Add cream and butter and process for about thirty seconds, or until smooth. Salt to taste. Scrape back into microwave-safe dish and recover.

Add frozen peas to the dutch oven, raise heat to medium, cover, and continue cooking for three minutes. 

If cauliflower and parsnip puree has cooled too much, return to microwave and reheat.

To Serve:
Place 1/3 to 1/2 cup of puree into center of wide shallow bowls. Ladle 1 and 1/2 cups of stew around  puree. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Remove bay leaves as you find them.