As you all may or may not know, I live in the blustery city of Rochester, NY, which is located on the shivery shore of Lake Ontario, just a few hours’ drive from Toronto, ON. Honestly, it is considerably more like southern Canada than it is like NYC (though the city is what many of my friends back in the Hoosier state inevitably think of when they hear I live in New York). Even when the bi-polar effects of global climate change are accounted for, we basically get a good 7 or 8 months of soup-and-stew weather each year.
I don’t know what it is, but sometimes nothing seems quite as warming a nourishing as a big bowl of hearty stew.
And so it was that yesterday, when I was contemplating what I wanted to make a big batch of for the night’s dinner and several of my lunches throughout the week, I decided that stew was definitely the way to go.
At first, I was pretty convinced that I wanted to make venison stew. In fact, I’m still pretty sure that that’s something I want soon. However, on short notice, all the venison that I was able to locate was tenderloin meat. Now, if I’m having a steak, tenderloins just about rock my world. However, they are not optimal for a stew: the best stew meats are cuts which are higher in fat and collagen, which enable the meat to become even more tender when it is cooked for a long time over a low heat, rather than less tender the way a tenderloin would (it would just dry out and basically be a waste of money, effort, and a delicious steak).
And so it was that I went with a lovely, well-marbled grass-fed sirloin steak. Grass-fed meats tend to be gamier in flavor than those from grain-fed animals, so not only is it healthier, it also is closer to the flavor that I was hoping for. Still not venison, but damn, this stew turned out good regardless!!!
Regarding broth: homemade broth is always, always superior, and it is so easy to make. However, I don’t always have some on hand, and I didn’t have time to make any yesterday: I confess, I ended up buying some. So, here’s the thing: I was absolutely appalled by how many of the broth options in the store were made with variations of sugar!! I was eventually able to find one that didn’t have any scary or sugary ingredients, but the whole process simply reaffirmed to me that I have to make up a big batch of stock soon to have readily available in my freezer. Be careful of what you buy, and read the labels!
This stew turned out absolutely perfect. I couldn’t have been any happier with how tender the meat was or how balanced the flavors were. Of course, soups and stews can be infinitely variable, so feel free to substitute the vegetables and herbs that you have on hand for those called for in the recipe: in my opinion, it’s always better to be flexible than to waste food!
- 2 lbs. grass-fed organic sirloin steak, tenderized by pounding and cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 8 oz. uncured, nitrate- and nitrite-free bacon
- 2 tablespoons EV olive oil
- 2 large yellow onions, coarsely chopped
- 6 carrots, peeled and cut into 1 to 1 ½ inch-long pieces
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 t coconut flour
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 large sweet potato, washed and cut into ¾” cubes
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
- ½ bunch Italian parsley
- 1 bunch green kale, stems removed, chopped into bite-sized pieces
- One 14 ½ can fire roasted diced tomatoes
- 3 cups beef or vegetable broth
- 12-16 oz. fresh mushrooms (I used a mix of portobella and shiitake), cut into thin bite-sized slices
- Season the sirloin with sea salt and black pepper.
- In a large skillet, cook the bacon until it is crisp over medium-high heat. Allow the bacon to drain on a paper-towel lined plate. Crumble it when it is cool, and set aside in the refrigerator.
- Add the olive oil to the bacon drippings. Brown the sirloin steak in batches: place browned meat in a large slow cooker.
- When you are done browning the meat, sauté the onion in the skillet until it is fully translucent. Add the carrots and garlic and continue sautéing for a few more minutes. Then, sprinkle on the coconut flour and sauté for one more minute before transferring to the slow cooker.
- Add the bay leaves, sweet potato, thyme, parsley, kale, tomatoes, and broth to the slow cooker and stir gently to combine.
- Cover and cook on low for 4 or 5 hours.
- Add the mushrooms and bacon: stir to combine. Continue to cook on low until the steak is tender and fully cooked, about 2 more hours.
- Remove the bay leaves before serving. Enjoy!