Beef Stew for Zoë
At the time, I was still living upstairs in the ballroom apartment (aka The Treehouse) of Zoë and her husband Graham’s beautiful home.
We got to shoot an episode (Meringues episode, available starting July 30!) that highlighted the amazing food collaboration that Zoë and I shared for almost 8 years, with Zoë creating dessert magic downstairs and me creating savory dishes upstairs. (I wrote all 52 weeks of Project Vibrancy Meals up there, plus three cookbooks, and I’m pretty sure Zoë made 1000 cakes, 1000 loaves of bread, and wrote like 50 cookbooks. She is talented AND prolific!)
Like a Mary Tyler Moore-version of Under the Tuscan Sun (Under the Lowry Hill Sun?), Graham tackled remodeling projects while Zoë baked and I cooked. (Graham once referred to me as Rhoda, bahaha).
I could smell bread and cookies in my bedroom; Zoë’s poodles could sniff out braised roasts and chicken broth from Z&G’s bedroom. It was a blessed time in my life and I’m so thrilled our delicious friendship – and an example of the many gorgeous, candlelit, bubbly, and raucous (cupcake bodybuilder! Inside joke, sorry…) parties we shared around my table – are captured in an upcoming episode. (Actually in three episodes – I got to arrange flowers and eat dessert on the front porch in the first episode, and there’s an episode shot in the back yard that was a blast to shoot as well!)
In honor of the many braised roasts and batches of broth I created in The Treehouse, and in honor of my beautiful, sparkling, brilliant friend, I created a beef stew recipe for the episode.
I wanted to hit the savory flavor notes that I know Zoë loves – rich broth and zingy condiments. I included not one, but two zingy condiments because…TV show! Totally the time to gild the lily.
I’ll confess that I attempted to pare this recipe back to something shorter for you all. But each time I tried, I just didn’t love it. The whole point of the recipe was to create something with a little pizzazz, but to also keep it comforting and something I would actually serve Z and friends for dinner.
And so, this is a dish to prepare on a slow Sunday afternoon. It takes a few hours from start to finish, and there are several steps, but each step is simple. I promise.
You should totally light a bunch of candles, sip some wine, listen to great music, and sink into the process. (I realize I’m posting this in July – the candles part is for those of you coming back here in the winter, when a fire-lit Sunday is heaven, not hell, on Earth.)
(Photo by Zoë Francois)
And I can share what we had for dessert – Zoë is the master of creating stunning gluten-free desserts for her GF friends and has become quite well-known for her gorgeous pavlovas. This episode is all about meringues and oh, what a beauty we got to share. We attacked it with a big chef’s knife after we were done shooting. Best perks!
I hope you love the episode – I KNOW that you’ll love the whole show. Zoë is an incredible teacher and I learned several new tips just from the first episode. Minneapolis has never looked so lovely – the whole series is a giant love letter to the city and to the chefs, bakers, and cooks who make the Twin Cities so deliciously special. Share this show with everyone you love and if you’re from MSP, be really proud of our beautiful hometown(s).
If you make the stew, you know what to do…let me know! DM me on Instagram or leave a note below. It’s entirely possible that you already follow Z on Instagram – she is a rockstar – but if not, most certainly do.
Beef Stew for Zoë
Note: This beef stew is really a cross between a pot roast dinner and a beef stew, to maximize flavor and make a special presentation. The recipe has several steps, none of which are difficult, so don’t let it intimidate you. It’s a perfect Sunday afternoon, dance around the kitchen recipe. Serve the stew in wide, shallow bowls so that you can see each beautiful part. You don’t need both gremolata and horseradish cream for garnishes – each one is delicious with the stew on its own – but the two together are pretty special. Just like Zoë!
For the Beef and Carrots:
One 3-4 pound well-marbled chuck roast, cut into 8 equal pieces
Avocado oil or olive oil
1 medium white or yellow onion, quartered and sliced thinly
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 cup Pinot Noir wine (the nicer the better, then enjoy the rest with the stew!)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cups homemade beef or chicken broth (or a good quality low-sodium boxed or canned brand)
6 small-to-medium carrots, peeled and halved lengthwise
1 tablespoon tapioca starch mixed with 1 tablespoon water
1. Preheat oven to 240°F. Salt the beef on all sides. Set out a large plate.
2. Set a 5.5-quart Dutch oven (with a heavy/tight-fitting lid) over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of oil. When the oil is hot, brown the beef, a few pieces at a time, on all sides, transferring pieces to the plate as you go. You may need to add a bit more oil to the pan.
3. When all the pieces are browned, add onions to the pan and saute until starting to brown, about 10 minutes (again, you may need to add a bit more oil). Add thyme, oregano, and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes. Add wine and simmer, stirring up any browned bits, until wine is reduced by half, for about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and broth and bring to a simmer. Add beef back to the pan, crowding the pieces together as best you can into one layer, and bring back to a simmer. Cover and transfer to the oven.
4. Bake for 2 hours. Check the beef for tenderness – it should be falling-apart tender. If it’s still on the bouncy side, re-cover and return to the oven for another 30 minutes.
5. While the beef braises, make the condiments, potatoes, and mushrooms. (Recipes below.)
6. When the beef is done, set Dutch oven on the cooktop and turn oven heat up to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of oil on the parchment paper, add the carrots, and using your hands, turn to coat the carrots in oil. Sprinkle carrots with salt on both sides and spread evenly across the baking sheet. Place carrots in the oven and roast for 10 minutes. Turn the carrots over and roast for another 10 minutes or until tender and browned in spots. Remove from oven and set aside.
7. While the carrots roast, transfer beef pieces to a large plate and set aside. Skim most of the fat from the pan juices (discard the fat). Set pan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Stir together the tapioca starch and water to make a slurry. Add 1 teaspoon of the slurry at a time to the simmering pan juices until juices are thickened a bit and glossy. Remove from heat and season gravy with salt and pepper. Add beef (and any accumulated juices) back to the pan and turn to coat in the gravy. Cover and keep warm.
8. To serve the stew, set out shallow soup bowls. Arrange a piece of beef, carrots, a few potatoes, and mushrooms in each bowl. Ladle a few tablespoons of gravy over the beef, letting it pool in the bottom of the bowl. Add a spoonful each of gremolata and horseradish cream and serve.
For the Gremolata
Zest of 2 lemons, yellow part only, peeled with vegetable peeler
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
3 medium shallots, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
Generous pinch of sea salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1. Finely chop the lemon zest. Pile on the parsley, chopped shallots, garlic, and salt and keep chopping, all of them together, until gremolata is finely minced and uniform.
2. Transfer to a glass jar, add oil, and stir to combine. Taste for salt – it should be pleasantly salty. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
For the Horseradish Cream
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
1-2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (to taste)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Several grinds of fresh black pepper
1. In a medium glass bowl, stir all ingredients together. Add a bit more salt if needed.
2. Transfer to a glass container or jar and refrigerate for up to 1 week.
For the Boiled New Potatoes
1 pound small new potatoes
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons gremolata (if you don’t make the gremolata, skip this step or substitute 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley)
1. Add potatoes to a large saucepan and cover with cold water by 1 inch. Add 2 teaspoons of salt to the water.
2. Set potatoes over high heat and bring to a boil. Turn heat to medium and boil until potatoes are just tender, from 10-20 minutes total. Drain potatoes and return to the pan.
3. If potatoes are larger than 1-inch across, cut potatoes in half. Add butter and gremolata to the pan, as well as a generous sprinkle of salt. Toss gently to coat. Taste and add more salt if needed. Cover and keep warm.
For the Sautéed Mushrooms
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound button mushrooms, quartered
1. Add butter and oil to a 12-inch skillet and set over medium-high heat. When butter is melted and hot, add the mushrooms. Sauté, stirring every few minutes, until lightly browned, about 10 minutes.
2. Season with salt and keep warm.