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A Delicious and Nourishing Beef Stew With a Gluten Free Option

Updated on December 2, 2013

Beef stew

Still in the pan (with wheat flour)
Still in the pan (with wheat flour)
Ready to eat (with wheat flour)
Ready to eat (with wheat flour)
On the left:  Browning meat with wheat flour Right:  Browning meat without any flour
On the left: Browning meat with wheat flour Right: Browning meat without any flour
Preparing the spices etc. for the cheesecloth bag
Preparing the spices etc. for the cheesecloth bag

Hearty beef stew

There are countless beef stew recipes ... in cookbooks, magazines, files, on the internet, and just stuck in a kitchen drawer. I bet you are wondering what is different about mine. Actually, it is not so very different, just a touch of this and that and the directions of how the soup is made. First, I'll list the ingredients:

  • One pound of beef, cut in about 1" cubes. Use a good grade and cut of meat as it must be tender
  • An onion
  • Three or four medium carrots
  • One medium size turnip
  • One or two small to medium parsnips
  • Two stalks of celery
  • Four to six medium potatoes
  • Seasonings: sea salt, pepper, two bay leaves, dried parsley, two teaspoons Kitchen Bouquet, beef bullion cube.

If you did not rinse off the meat before cutting into cubes, do it now and let drain in a colander. Heat a large non-stick skillet or heavy stew pot and add margarine or bacon fat. Put 1/2 cup of flour (may need more, enough to coat the pieces of meat) into a clean lunch sack. Add salt and pepper (if using ground pepper) to the flour. Close top and shake the sack to mix. Add cooked beef and shake sack again to thoroughly coat the meat. Place the prepared meat in the hot skillet. Try not to heap the pieces; brown. Turn a few times to make sure the meat is brown on all sides and pretty much cooked.

You may ask why I use a sack. During cold months I just throw it into my wood-burning kitchen stove. Easy cleanup! Also, if you use a stew pot rather than a skillet, just one cooking utensil is needed ... again, easy cleanup!

When the meat has finished browning, push it aside and saute the chopped onion in hot oil or or just the meat fat if there is enough to do the job. When the onion has cooked a bit, add two or three cups of water and simmer. Add the vegetables which have been cut into about 1" pieces; also add the bullion and Kitchen Bouquet. Add the dried parsley. Put the bay leaves and peppercorns (if you prefer using these) into a cheesecloth bag, adding it to the stew, and continue simmering until the vegetables are done. You may need to add more salt or salt replacement though the replacement will alter the flavor a bit. The water should have 'cooked down' but, if not, put some cornstarch with a little water and add. Cook until the broth has thickened and the starch does not have a raw taste.

  • Special notes: If there is someone in the family that objects to the onion and celery, put those ingredients in the cheesecloth bag or another bag and add with the vegetables. Remove before serving. Also, if you plan to freeze any of the stew, the onions and celery do not freeze well. Onions and celery add to the overall good taste and nutrition but removing them before eating or freezing leaves the flavor while taking away items with objectionable textures.

  • Cooking equipment: Use a heavy weight stainless steel pan for frying the meat. sauteing the onion and for simmering. I don't have a crock pot so I'm not sure if you can brown meat in one of those but, if so, just use one for the entire for the entire browning and simmering process. If using the pan, a good spatula (turner) with a straight end will alleviate or prevent any sticking or scorching.
  • GLUTEN FREE VERSION: The only ingredient with gluten is the wheat flour used to coat the meat. Rather than using wheat flour, saute only the meat (no coating,. When browned, add the onions and cook them as before, but you will need to thicken the broth with either a rice flour slurry or a cornstarch slurry. I also add another bullion cube or more Kitchen Bouquet. Simmer 15-20 minutes after these additions.

Beef stew .... gluten free version

Gluten free beef stew
Gluten free beef stew

Serving variations

  • Leftover stew makes an excellent deep dish pot pie. Cutting up any larger pieces of carrots, etc. is probably a good idea.
  • Beef and dumplings: Leave in the stew pot, add your favorite biscuit batter or refrigerated biscuits from a can to the top of the stew, cover and cook until the biscuits are done. Be sure the stew does not stick and burn so keep the heat lower. Make certain that there is enough broth in the pan to help prevent sticking because the batter and additional cooking will deplete the broth.
  • Another option is to bake the stew in a 13x9 dish or pan with refrigerated biscuit pieces on top until they are nicely browned. Be sure there is enough broth that the stew does not become dry. This method is easier than the beef and dumplings above.

Final comments

Some readers may think I'm enabling children with eating idiosyncrasies but, as a child growing up on our family farm, I had problems with many foods too. If I didn't eat what had been prepared, I would not be offered other options by my parents, but was required to wait until the next meal was served. I did not mind that. After I moved away from the farm as a teenager, I had no problems with eating those foods. I have always had an unbelievable sense of small and, now, think this may have caused me to reject specific foods ... the odor of the raw food still on my hands or in the environment, memories of food processing ... who knows? I do want to say that my mother was a fanatic regarding cleanliness, however!!

I hope you make and enjoy this stew! My next hub will be an excellent recipe for posole.


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