Bœuf Bourguignon (low carb)

“However fine, stew is a homey, intimate exchange, a paean to the way living things improve when their boundaries relax, when they incorporate some of the character and flavor of others. Soulful, a word inextricably linked with a good sturdy stew, is the payoff to the cook who plans a little and has the patience to abide…” Molly O’Neill, NYTimes Magazine, 1994

You can read the entire glorious paean to stews—A Simmer of Hope—here.

Bœuf Bourguignon (grass-fed // low carb)
Approximate Yield: Eight 2-cup servings // 483 calories, 14 net carbs

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 pounds grass-fed dry-aged beef chuck roast, cut into 1″ cubes
8 ounces pearl onions, trimmed and peeled
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup good cabernet sauvignon, zinfandel, or pinot noir
8 cups grass-fed beef broth
2 large bay leaves
2 branches of fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
24 large cloves garlic, thickly-sliced
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoon freshly-ground pepper
4 tablespoons grass-fed butter (I use Kerrygold)
12 ribs celery, sliced
6 ounces carrot, roll-cut (or thick-sliced)
16 ounces whole mushrooms, quartered
salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste

Note: The following cooking periods are for grass-fed beef*. Grass-fed beef is leaner, meaning it has less fat, and the animals also exercise more, so a stew with this type of meat needs low, slow, cooking to become tender. If you can, by dry-aged cuts, which concentrates beefy flavor and dramatically increases tenderness.

Bring the beef to room temperature before cooking.

In a Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat, then add one-third of the meat to the pot. Let the meat cook for a few minutes until the bottom has a dark crust, then repeat that process for the other sides of the meat. It takes time, but you’ll be rewarded with an extra flavorful stew. Remove the browned meat to a large bowl. Repeat with the remaining meat in 2 more batches; set aside.

Add the onion and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and garlic and sauté until aromatic, about 1 minute.

Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees.

Pour in the wine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Return the meat and any accumulated juices to the pot. Add the beef broth, bay leaf, thyme, smoked paprika, garlic, and the measured salt and pepper. Increase the heat to high, stirring, and bring to a boil. Immediately place the dutch oven—covered—in the oven, and braise for two hours. At the end of the two hours of braising, check the meat for tenderness. If it is still a bit tough, cook for another hour. Keep taste-testing until the beef has cooked enough to be tender. This can be as long as 4 hours, depending on the animal’s age and the lushness of its pasture.

About an hour before the beef is tender, warm the butter over medium heat in a separate pan. Add the pearl onions and sauté until aromatic and just tender, about 4 minutes. Add the celery and carrots and sauté for 1 minute, then add the vegetables to the stew pot. When there are 20 minutes of cooking left, add the chopped mushrooms.

Once the meat is tender and the vegetables are done, remove all of the solids from the pot with a slotted spoon and set aside; discard the bouquet garni. Increase the stovetop heat to medium-high and reduce the sauce to about 3 cups. Once the sauce is reduced, remove it from the heat and gently stir in the meat and veggies. Season to taste and serve with mashed potatoes or  mashed cauliflower, if desired.

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*More about grass-fed beef—Without added grain feed, the meat from grass fed animals has a completely different, and much healthier, nutritional profile than grain fed beef. They are also healthier because they are never given antibiotics, added hormones other growth promoting substances. The land they graze is also certified organic, so the animals are never exposed to GMOs (genetically modified organisms), herbicides, fungicides, pesticides or chemical fertilizers.