With winter closing in, this is the time of year that my kitchen switches over from salads, stir-fries and steamed foods to stews, braises and roasts. It’s a yearly ritual dictated as much by the prevailing weather as my mood.
But just because the mercury is falling doesn’t mean I want to abandon all vegetables in favor of meat. As the name implies, this stew has more carrots in it than meat. By grating some of the carrot into the braising liquid, it not only imparts flavor and color, it lends a natural sweetness to the sauce without adding any sugar. The subtle sweetness accentuates the fruity flavors of the tomato providing a sublime contrast for the rich, meaty beef.
While most people assume raw veggies are the most nutritious, that’s not necessarily the case. In his book Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation, Michael Pollan posits that cooking enabled us to spend less time chewing while allowing us to absorb more of the nutrients, which in turn allowed our brains to grow bigger with more time to use it to develop things like language and civilization.
While nutrients like Vitamin C are destroyed by heating fruits and vegetables, lycopene, an antioxidant found in tomatoes is increased by cooking. Likewise, levels of beta-carotene, which the body converts to Vitamin A, is increased by cooking carrots.
This dish works best with a cut of beef with lots of connective tissue such as a deboned shank, but it will also well with chuck or short ribs.
Double Carrot Stew
- 650 grams (22.9 ounces) carrots (~ 4 medium carrots)
- 500 grams (17.6 ounces) beef chuck cut into 2” pieces
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 18 grams (0.6 ounces) garlic (~2 cloves), minced
- 175 grams (6.2 ounces) onion (~1 medium onion), thinly sliced
- 1 cup red wine
- 400 grams (14.1 ounces) stewed tomatoes
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- chopped flat leaf parsley for garnish
- Peel the carrots. Using a grater or food processor puree a quarter of the carrots (about 160 grams). Slice the rest of the carrots into ½-inch thick chunks.
- Generously salt and pepper the beef and then dust with the flour.
- Heat a pressure cooker over high heat until hot.
- Add the olive oil followed by the beef in a single layer. Brown on one side until a peak underneath reveals a dark brown crust.
- Flip the beef and brown the other side.
- Transfer the beef to a bowl and turn down the heat to medium low.
- Add the garlic and onions to the pot. Saute until tender and starting to brown.
- Add the carrot puree and continue sauteing until the carrot puree has started to brown.
- Add the wine and deglaze the pan, scraping up all the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
- Add the stewed tomatoes, water, bay leaves, salt and pepper and return the beef to the pot.
- Seal the pressure cooker and set the pressure to high. Bring the cooker up to pressure over high heat until you hear a steady whistle. Turn down the heat to maintain a steady whistle and set a timer for 15 minutes.
- When the timer is up, place the pressure cooker in a sink and run some cold water on the lid until the pressure releases. Once you’re certain the pressure has released, open the lid, add the carrots and give it a stir.
- Seal the lid again and place the cooker over high heat until it comes back up to pressure. Adjust the heat down to maintain a steady whistle and set the timer for 20 minutes.
- When the timer is up, place the pressure cooker in the sink and run some cold water on the lid to release the pressure. Open up the cooker and test the beef for tenderness (it should fall apart when prodded with a fork).
- If it’s still not as tender as you’d like, simmer uncovered until it reaches your desired level of tenderness.
- Taste the stew and add salt as needed, garnish with flat-leaf parsley.
Yield: 4 servings
Marc Matsumoto is a culinary consultant and recipe repairman who shares his passion for good food through his website norecipes.com. For Marc, food is a life long journey of exploration, discovery and experimentation and he shares his escapades through his blog in the hopes that he inspires others to find their own culinary adventures. Marc’s been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and has made multiple appearances on NPR and the Food Network.