This gluten-free beef stew is a tribute to a modern master-chef. Okay, I admit I'm a bit of a fan girl. I love Jamie's Oliver's approach to cooking. He has a unique flair and a way of making cooking look fun and easy. I also love that he's dedicated much of his work to making cooking less intimidating so people will eat more healthy meals at home, even when they are on a budget and have limited time.
Jamie does have some gluten-free recipes in his repertoire, but that's not his focus. But what the heck, it gives people like us a chance to play a bit and experiment.
The trick with this stout, robust gluten-free beef stew is to replicate the malty, hoppy flavour of the Guinness, without being able to taste Guinness to remind myself of what exactly I'm trying to copy.
So I reach waaay back in my memory to my beer drinking days to try to remember what this world famous Irish stout actually tastes like. It's dark and smooth, and I think I can recall a hint coffee flavour and maybe a bit of a suggestion of chocolate.
And then I remember that I have the internet so I search "Guinness tasting notes". Irishcentral.com says "Guinness has a malty sweetness and a hoppy bitterness, with notes of coffee and chocolate. A roasted flavor also comes through, courtesy of the roasted unmalted barley that goes into its brewing. It has a sweet nose, with hints of malt breaking through, and its palate is smooth, creamy, and balanced." Bingo!
Chocolate in a stew??!!! you say. Well it's not that far out and I'll try anything once. Well, almost anything.
I decided to try Magner's cider to keep with the Irish theme and provide the sweet hoppiness for my gluten-free beef stew. However, the cider is a bit too sweet so I only used about 2/3 of a cup. No worries about what to do with the rest.
A little gluten-free Worcestershire sauce bumps up the taste and gives a bit of malty hint, and exchanging the chicken broth in the original recipe with beef broth provides depth and a darker colour
I've seen recipes that bring in the coffee flavor with the addition of dry instant coffee granules, but instant coffee is not always gluten-free and I don't keep it in my pantry, so I add a cup of brewed coffee.
The result? A-maz-ing!
This gluten-free beef stew is thickened with pureed potatoes, so if you are trying to reduce or eliminate grains then this will work for you. No flour or cornstarch.
4 carrots cut into 1 inch pieces
1 medium sweet onion coarsely chopped
1 lb lean ground beef
1 bunch of fresh sage or your favorite herbs*
1 heaping tbsp of dark sweet jam**
1 1/4 lbs potatoes
2/3 c Magners or other hoppy cider
2 c beef broth
1 c brewed coffee
1 tbsp gluten-free Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp cocoa powder
Oil for frying
* Jamie includes sage in his recipes a lot. I think it might be his favorite herb. If you can't find fresh sage by all means sub in what you like. Thyme, oregano, parsley all work well.
** The original recipe calls for blackcurrant jam. You can use another dark jam like blackberry for example
Preheat the oven to 350 °
In a cast iron or other large oven proof skillet, heat the oil and fry the carrots for about 5 minutes. They should be browning a bit on the outside and starting to tenderize.
Ad the onion and stir for a minute or two.
Add the ground beef a bit at a time and use a spoon to break it up and stir it around.
Once there is no more pink in the beef, add in your herbs and the jam, and season with a bit of salt and pepper.
Sprinkle to cocoa powder over the top and stir it in.
Cook for another 10 minutes or so. It will start to get dark as the sugar caramelizes. The aroma is already irresistible.
While the meat mixture is cooking (keep and eye and stir occasionally) wash the potatoes. If they are fairly new with tender skins you don't need to peel them.
Take about 9 oz of the potato, cut into chunks and put it in the blender or food processor with the cider. Puree until smooth.
Add the pureed potato mixture to the pan along with the beef broth and bring to a boil.
Let the stew simmer and reduce a bit while you slice the potatoes into 1/4 inch slices. A mandolin slicer works well for this but you can certainly do it with your knife.
The stew should still be quite liquidy, but reduced enough that when you arrange the potatoes on top, they don't just sink under the liquid. Arrange the potatoes on top of the stew so it's completely covered.
Drizzle or brush a bit of oil on the potatoes and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Move your gluten-free beef stew to the oven and bake for an hour. The sauce will be thick and the potatoes will be golden, on top and tender.
Serve on it's own or with your favorite gluten-free bun or biscuit.