Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Hungry Dog stew with gremolata

I finally learned how to make beef stew.

I mean, I've made it many times before, sometimes with recipes and sometimes not. Using recipes, I always felt like I was missing out on the real fun of making stew--not being beholden to a list of ingredients and directions, instead stirring and seasoning and simmering and tasting. But recently I've made it twice, just winging it, and it's turned out just right.

My method is basic, with amounts varying to taste:

Toss some cubes of beef with salt and pepper and a light dusting of flour. Brown them in a big pot with some oil and remove. Add some finely chopped celery, onion, and garlic and let soften. Add some wine to deglaze and let simmer, briefly. Return the meat to the pot with juices and add chicken or beef broth, chopped canned tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Cover and put in the oven at 350 for about 2 hours, stirring once or twice. About 20 minutes before it's done, add chunks of carrots, and little frozen pearl onions if you'd like. At the very end, toss in a handful of frozen peas. Season to taste.

I made the Hungry Dog stew over the weekend, half of which was nice and half of which was rainy. I made the stew on the rainy day. Out our back window it looked like this.

I could look at the Pacific Ocean all day. I fear we'll never be able to leave this apartment because of that view. Who doesn't want to wake up and look at the ocean? On a clear day it takes your breath away. Even on a rainy day it's not so bad.

As the stew simmered snugly in its Le Creuset, I considered something to brighten it. While I love braises and stews, sometimes they can seem a little heavy. A long-cooked dish can benefit from something sunny and sharp. A fresh herb, squeeze of lemon, or splash of vinegar can sometimes do the trick, but in this case I decided to make gremolata.

Gremolata is simply minced parsley, raw garlic, and lemon zest. I'd never made it before but it took about two minutes. I found a recipe that called for three garlic cloves, a quarter cup of parsley, and the zest of one lemon, peeled with a vegetable peeler--all finely chopped together.

Once the stew was dished up over buttered egg noodles, I sprinkled it with the gremolata. The gremolata made the stew sing. The deep, muted flavors of the stew from long simmering came to life under the pungent and citrusy notes of the garlic and lemon.

Perfect for a rainy night.


  1. Nice! I've never heard of gremolata, but I can already imagine it with all kinds of stuff.

    Making stew off the cuff is definitely the most fun way to do it. I always do it on the stove top so I can fiddle with it more easily. ;)

  2. I make an Asian Short Rib Stew with red curry paste, shallot and some spices in the slow cooker and use lime zest at the end which is probably akin to the gremolata. I change things up a little bit but this is the recipe that inspired it.

  3. Snap Hungry Dog! I just made a very similar stew tonight (what is it with this psychic thing?) but seasoned the coating flour with a little paprika, and used beer instead of wine. Oh and water instead of stock. We ate half tonight and put the other half in the freezer to take with us camping tomorrow :)
    Might have to make some gremolata to eat with that batch.

    That is indeed an amazing view, I wouldn't want to leave either.

  4. Oh and I forgot, there was a bit of bacon involved too :)

  5. Don't you just love the way gremolata brightens up a dish? And winging it is my favorite part about stew making!

    p.s. A Little Yum - That stew sounds incredible!

  6. Oh I just love this. The gremolata is a great touch. It must really brighten the dish up. It looks fabulous.
    *kisses* HH

  7. I love gremolata. I use it in creamy mushroom soup. You stew sounds great and perfect for a rainy day. If you do leave that fab view, call me I'll move right in!
    Love the new blog.

  8. it made the stew sing, eh? question: was the delicious-looking dish a prodigy or completely tone-deaf? :)

  9. Your stew looks delicious! One of my favorite go-to recipes.
    (Can I ask you to take a peek at my recipe too? We're on the same page with our root beer cake, so just maybe you'd love my stew too.)

  10. I'm looking at every perfect mince in that gremolata photo. Well done. I wouldn't have the patience. Hack, slash.

  11. Gremolata is like magic fairy dust. You can put it on almost any savory dish and it just works wonders.

  12. I've been thinking about making beef stew for awhile now and couldn't decide what to serve it with: mashed potatoes, crusty bread or (being Chinese-y) steamed rice. But now I have the perfect answer - buttered noodles, mmm!! - Pete (off to add beef and pearl onions to his shopping list)

  13. Now that is a view...I think you are right to never leave your apt! And that is a recipe...looks awesome and I can't wait to make it!

  14. Bob: you're totally right about the stove version being easier to fiddle with. The pot is so heavy that once it's in the oven, I'm loathe to pull it all the way out and even stir it!

    A Little Yum: that sounds ridiculously good!

    Shaz: I love the paprika idea. And bacon...well you know that's always welcome!

    camille: yes, gremolata is definitely a new favorite!

    HH: Thanks!

    Pam: in mushroom soup--brilliant! Thanks about the fledgling blog :)

    Year on Grill: totally

    grace: good point. Um, sing in a good way... ;)

    cookiecrumb: thanks for the props on my knife skills!

    CJ: agreed.

    Pete: Can't wait to hear how your stew turns out! Email me when you're done...

    a la graham: The view is gorgeous. I'm sure it is the best view I will ever have!

  15. oneordinaryday: missed you in my comment. I will head over to your blog now to check out YOUR fabulous stew! :)

  16. This. Looks. Amazing.

    I can already tell that I'm going to be putting gremolata on everything now. :)

  17. The stew looks wonderful. I've never used gremolata with beef but I use it often with veal. You have a gorgeous view and our off-and-on PNW weather makes stew very desirable. I hope you have a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

  18. I don't think I've ever had gremolata before? Or maybe I did at a restaurant. But definitely sounds like a smart idea, like how the Chinese add a dash of vinegar to soups to make it seems less heavy. And you do have a great view! I have a view of the Safeway parking lot. :(

  19. Ahhh.... the view. I miss it. This is my kind of comfort food and the gremolata is a stroke of genius. I agree that a long simmered dish needs something fresh for balance. I will try this for sure. BTW Steve makes a really delicious green beans with gremolata recipe. We'll have to ask him to invite us over so he can make it for us.

  20. Domestic Adventurer: thanks! Let me know how the gremolata treats you!

    Mary: yes, our weather is probably pretty similar at times--damp and foggy! Stew weather.

    Ben: You'd like gremolata, I think--it cuts the richness or heaviness of foods. Sorry about your non-view :(

    Stace: Yes, how soon can we finegle an invite from Steve? That recipe sounds delicious.

  21. Stews are super on a gloomy day, aren't they? It makes everything feel warm and cozy! I love that you finished it with gremolata! Bet that lemon really freshens things up.
    My mother always topped her stews with dumplings. I loved them! Does anyone make dumplings anymore?

  22. I can hear it singing all the way in Minnesota

  23. Barbara: Now you've got me thinking about dumplings!

    Thanks so much!

    tamilyn: ha! Cute.

  24. Oh, I love gramolata. What a great use for it!

  25. Hi Kate! Welcome back from your trip! :)

  26. You are SO LUCKY to have that view out your window. You're right, it looks relaxing even on a rainy day!

    That gramolata looks great! I still have a Meyer lemon sitting around. I wonder how it would work with cilantro (which my husbands LOVES and prefers over parsley)

  27. Jen: I think it would be great with cilantro. Think about that over fish, wouldn't it be awesome? Let me know how it turns out if you try it.

  28. What a great weather and it sounds like a perfect day for a perfect stew with noodle! Have a great day!

  29. My little Space: thanks! It definitely was the perfect day for stew...