During the Calgary Stampede, you’re guaranteed at least one dark stormy day. A comforting ladleful of deep, glossy mahogany-hued stew will warm your bones. Stew is western comfort food at its finest. Rich, velvet pools of chicken or beef perfectly nap hot biscuits or buttery clouds of mashed potatoes flecked with chives.
Adding a bottle of red wine (boeuf bourguignon) or Belgian beer (les carbonades Flamandes) will only make your bubbling pot better. We confess to preferring our stew dark and saucy, with bite-sized chunks of meat, potatoes, onion and carrot. Too many chunky vegetables or a gluey consistency and you’ve lost us. If you can, try to prepare stew a day in advance.
These two western-style stews make use of Canadian ingredients. Maple syrup, juniper berries and dried blueberries make these distinct tastes.
This stew, by name, has a vile history with ingredients better left unsaid.
1/2 cup olive oil
2 1/2 lbs meat cubed 1″
1lb diced carrots
1lb diced red potatoes
5 celery stalks
1 cup flour
2 qts beef stock
2 or 3 juniper berries
1/2 cup dried berries (cranberry, blueberry, saskatoon (rosehips?)
2 1/4 lbs sausage chorizo, or Italian, thickly sliced
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 tbsp chopped thyme
Heat oil, sear meat in batches. Set aside. Add veg and saute til soft. Return meat, stir in flour until meat and veg are well coated
Add stock and and stir well. Reduce heat to low. Add berries, sausage and herbs. Simmer for one hour or until meat is tender. Season.
JASPER PARK LODGE VOYAGEUR STEW
Makes eight servings
3 pounds/1.5kg lean beef, cut into 1-inch/2.5cm cubes
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups chopped onions
3/4 cup maple syrup
3 cups potatoes, skin on , cut into 1-inch/2.5cm cubes
2 cups turnips, cut into 1-inch/2.5cm cubes
1 cup, green onions, cut into small rounds
4 cups beef stock
salt and pepper
In a pan, heat the oil and cook the beef until the cubes are brown on all sides about five minutes.
Add the onions and continue cooking for three minutes. Add the maple syrup and cook, stirring for one minute. Add the potatoes, turnips, and green onions and cook stirring for three minutes. Add the beef stock, salt and pepper and simmer for one hour.
PARKER’S BEEF STEW
2 1/2 pounds good-quality chuck beef, cut into 1 1/4-inch cubes
1(750 ml bottle) good red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon
3 whole garlic cloves, smashed
3 bay leaves
6 ounces bacon, cut in 1-inch pieces
Freshly ground black pepper
Good olive oil
2 cups chopped yellow onions
2 tablespoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
1 pound carrots, peeled and cut diagonally in 1 1/2-inch chunks
1 pound small potatoes, halved or quartered
1 (14 1/2 ounce can) beef stock
1 large (2 small) branch fresh rosemary
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and sliced
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 (10-ounce) package frozen peas (not petits pois)
1.Place the beef in a bowl with the red wine (I use a good one since it’s an important flavor), whole garlic, and bay leaves. Place in the refrigerator and allow to marinate overnight.
2.The next day, preheat the oven to 300°F.
3.Brown the bacon in a large (12-inch) sauté pan for 5 to 7 minutes, over medium-low heat. With a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a Dutch oven, such as Le Creuset. Combine 2 cups of flour, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 tablespoon pepper. Lift the beef out of the marinade and discard the bay leaves and garlic, saving the marinade. In batches, dredge the cubes of beef in the flour mixture and then shake off the excess. In the sauté pan, brown half the beef over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, turning to brown evenly. Place the beef in the Dutch oven with the bacon and continue to brown the remaining beef, placing it all in the Dutch oven.
4.Lower the heat to medium-low, add the onions to the sauté pan, and cook for 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the carrots and potatoes and cook for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Place all the vegetables in the Dutch oven with the beef. Add 2 1/2 cups of the reserved marinade (discard the rest) to the sauté pan and cook over high heat to deglaze the bottom of the pan, scraping up all the brown bits with a wooden spoon. Add the beef stock, rosemary, sun-dried tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, 1 tablespoon salt, and 2 teaspoons pepper. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables in the Dutch oven and bring it to a simmer over medium heat on top of the stove. Cover the pot and place it in the oven for 2 hours, until the meat and vegetables are all tender, stirring once during cooking. If the stew is boiling rather than simmering, lower the heat to 250°F or 275°F.
5.When the stew is done and the meat is tender, whisk 2 tablespoons of flour and 1 cup of the sauce together and pour it back into the stew. Simmer for 3 minutes, until thickened. Stir in the frozen peas, season to taste, and serve hot.