Beef Stew Struggles {CtBF}

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Full Disclosure:  Beef Stew challenges me.  On the surface, it’s perfect comfort food with much in its favor, but I usually only like it, never love it.  One thing I’ve figured out is that I don’t like stewed vegetables, especially potatoes, so I tend to favor recipes with just meat and gravy.  This week’s selection for Cook the Book Fridays from David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen, Belgian beef stew with beer and spice bread (aka Carbonade Flamande), met these criteria, so I was excited to try something new.

To start, chunks of beef chuck are browned.  Next, diced onions and bacon lardons are sautéed.  The pot is deglazed with some water before adding a bottle of beer.  I tried to find a European-style amber, but the only amber at the store was Dos Equis so that’s what I used.  Finally, all the ingredients along with thyme, bay leaves, and cloves spent some time simmering.

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Now it’s time for the secret ingredient: pain d’épices.  What’s pain d’épices, you ask?  It’s a honeyed spice loaf, not too sweet and fragrant with a variety of warm spices: anise, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, nutmeg and cloves.  The scent reminded me of my favorite holiday cookies, Basler Läckerli.

It seems unconventional, but this stew is thickened with slices of pain d’épices lightly spread with Dijon mustard.  The slices are laid on top while it stews for a few more hours.  Periodic stirring encourages the bread to dissolve into the pot, transforming the thin beery broth into a thick flavorful gravy.

I served the stew over a bed of mashed potatoes.  The stew had the simple style I prefer with an unusual and enticing aroma and taste.  While I enjoyed this more than many other versions of beef stew, I still just liked-not-loved it.

Tricky to photograph -- it was more appealing in person

Tricky to photograph — it was more appealing in person

I enjoyed the leftover spice bread more.  I brought it to my sister’s.  It was a bit dry, but improved when we toasted it for breakfast.

Meanwhile, I’ve become obsessed with last time’s dukkah.  I made the dukkah-roasted cauliflower 3 times in the past two weeks. I also gave broccoli the same treatment.  Equally delicious.  And I used dukkah to coat fish fillets when I made Dorie Greenspan’s almond flounder meunière (or should I call it dukkah flounder meunière?)  I’m going to have to make another batch.

We just returned from a long weekend in Florida for a family celebration.  Here’s my favorite nature shot from the trip.  We saw this 15-to-20 foot alligator floating in the water beside the fishing pavilion when we took a walk at Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge.

Alligator

And closer to home, despite a snowstorm predicted for the weekend, spring is in the air.  This morning I caught half a dozen turtles sunning themselves on a log during my late-morning walk with Bella.  They made me smile.

Turtles

And this evening, we spied a beautiful full rainbow in the backyard!

Rainbow

If you want to know how my friends enjoyed their stew, check out their links here.  Due to copyright considerations, I don’t publish the recipes here.  You can find the stew on page 198 and the pain d’épices on page 293 of David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen.  Or feel free to drop me a line and I’ll share with you.

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Posted on 18 March 2016, in Baking, Beef, Cook The Book Fridays, my paris kitchen and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. How great that this stew only has meat! The spice bread has me intrigued. Great dish.

  2. Oh my goodness – dukkah on flounder sounds wonderful! And I’m in the same camp of “just liking” this stew as you. Maybe if I just made the stew on its own next time I might change to the “loving” it?

  3. I love the idea of using the dukkah with Dorie’s recipe. Sounds delicious. I love all your photos this week and I’m glad you liked the stew, at least. I’m curious to try it when I’m able.

  4. The rainbow made me smile. Have a great weekend.

  5. Laughter! I did not add any vegs or spuds to the stew, but had them on the side! I have been using the Dukkah on almost everything too. Love the photos of the reptiles, and that rainbow!

  6. peggygilbey814628432

    Hi Betsy, tasty stew. I love Dukkah and have a friend who makes her own, it is quite versatile, tasting delicious on so many things, and especially fresh warm middle eastern style breads. Love your photos, what a sensational rainbow!

  7. Kitchen Conundrum

    Dukkah is one of my favorites as well! It’s so good on so many things! The stew was interesting, but the bread was great!

  8. I like stew, not loving it though. I have a similar preference. However, this stew stands out more because of the bread. Unconventional. Dukkah, that’s a whole different story.

  9. I love your dukkah-fest… and that you went all “Mary” on this post with the nature pictures from Florida :-)
    I like beef stew, but Joe is never a fan so if I make it I need to be prepared to eat most of it. I am glad I enjoyed it, because the leftovers were mostly mine (except for the batch I sent back to school with Sarah)

  10. Loved reading your post this week. (Well, I always love reading your post.) This week you just included so many different subjects to comment about. First, I really enjoyed the bread and also think it makes great toast. The bread/mustard technique was just fun to do although I probably won’t make the beef stew often. I will make the Pain d’épices, however. If you ate cauliflower three times in two weeks, I’m impressed. I like cauliflower but that’s alot of it in a short amount of time. I also want to use it on fresh fish. Although I’ve made three different kinds of Dukkah, David’s is my favorite. Thanks for the nature pictures and bravo for catching that rainbow. Florida’s wildlife refuges are phenomenal, I understand. I’m glad Bella wasn’t along for the walk (you didn’t take her, did you?)

  11. I usually like stew but I just couldn’t make sense of the spices in the stew!
    The dukkah on the other hand I totally understand :) It was great.
    I love your nature shots, we all live in different parts of the world and I enjoy being able to see the environments surrounding us!

  12. Betsy, thanks for the idea of dukkah-crusted fish! I’m using that! Also, dukkah as a topping for ice cream. I just did it with vanilla ice cream and it was very tasty! On to the stew, I agree with you about beef stew. I’ve tried so hard to more than like it ever and it is just not really my thing. All the AMFT recipes for the daube and the stewed beef this and that. Eh. But, this bread. Yep! The bread made the whole endeavor worth it for me. :)

  13. that alligator was lucky to be in a foodie post but not be part of the meal! 😏 Looks like I need to go back and make the dukkah dish!

  14. I was just thinking today that I need to make another batch of dukkah! I have some cauliflower I want to roast, and it will seem so boring without the dukkah on it. I am glad you like the stew, even if you didn’t love it.

  15. I didn’t make the stew although it did sound very interesting (I don’t eat beef), but I did make the bread/cake. I enjoyed it a lot, although it wasn’t really sweet enough to feel like dessert to me. I loved reading about your uses of the dukkah. It makes me want to make more.

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