Happy All Hallows Eve, with a side of beef stewed in wine (and gluten free)

Hello there all. Ready for all the Trick or Treaters to come traipsing to your door? Ready for little angels and ninja turtles and lady bugs and vampires? (And lets not forget the last minute too-cool-to-go-trick-or-treating, but still want that candy older kids coming by with pillow cases to fill)

IMG_4358 (1024x765)
What should we name him? Count of Monte Pumpkin? Casanova? Phantom of the pumpkin?

Look at the inside of this huge pumpkin we got from the store. It looks eery with almost spider-web like pumpkin strands inside:

IMG_4359 (1024x765)It’s a biggin! Waiting to be gutted and carved. (and the seeds toasted by yours truly, and eaten by yours truly, with any luck.)

Anyway, I had pulled some stewing beef out of the freezer the other day and it was high time to cook it up before it went to waste. We had just had spaghetti n meatballs a couple of night before and I was trying to stay away from the whole tomato based meal thing.

Side note:

We were supposed to have this last night, but on my way home yesterday, I was bashed into at an intersection by some young idiot who thought texting while driving was a great idea, and ran a red light. So dinner was put on hold. Stew needs time. This punk robbed me of that time and my car and it could have been my life. Or his. (Don’t worry, I am fine. But the car is hopeless).

So what to do? My usual fall-back beef stew was delicious but had tomatoes. If I left those out, I would need something else to um, ‘enhance’ the stew.

So my mind wandered back along those Juila Child flashbacks. Wine, wine and more wine. How about Jacques Pepin, Mr. French cooking with ze wine?

Have you ever cooked with wine? Have you had much success? My experience is more of a ‘win some-lose some’. But last night we won some! And it was still a gluten-free meal. Here is how it went:

Beef Stew with wine

stewing meat or a chuck roast cut into stew size pieces (I had about 2 pounds. You can use however much you need or make enough to freeze for later. I would  say this is even better the next day.)

olive oil

onion, diced

herbs (I picked some rosemary and thyme from garden. Use what is in your pantry if you want, whatever you like best)

garlic cloves, 2

red wine

chicken broth & some beef broth (I use the boxed size from the store. If you have homemade, even better!)

carrots, pearl onions, peas, mushrooms or whatever mix of vegetables your family likes or you have on hand.

potatoes (sweet or white or a combination)

leeks (optional, if you happen to have some looking kind of sad in the fridge, needing a purpose in life other than going in the trash.)

2 Tbsp. tapioca starch (or you could use potato starch or just flour)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

So,  pour some olive oil in the bottom of a heavy dutch oven, enough to fry the meat in, and heat the pan.

Salt the meat and brown in the hot pan, doing it in 2 or 3 batches depending on how much you are making. Remove the meat to a bowl or large plate. (In my old recipe, I would dredge the meat in flour first. I don’t anymore.)

Add the diced onions and garlic to the pan, frying in the meat fat/oil. Add the meat back in. Add the herbs and about 1/2 a bottle of red wine and half a box of chicken broth or enough to barely cover the meat.

Pop into the oven and forget about it for 1 1/2-2 hours. Isn’t that nice?

Now carefully remove the amazingly, ferociously hot pot from the oven and set on the stove.

Peel the potatoes and carrots. Get out the other vegetables you are putting in. I happened to have pearl onions in my freezer (from Trader Joes of course). You could use any kind of onions you have on hand. The previous diced onions are cooked down to nothing, adding to the sauce, but these will be more intact to pick up with a fork and eat. Cut the potatoes into largish chunks, cut the carrots into 1″-2″ pieces. There are really no hard and fast rules here. Add any other vegetables you want. Add more salt and pepper too.

Put all the vegetables into the pot, stirring them in. At this point I added some beef broth because the vegetables where sitting up too high over the meat and sauce that I wanted them to cook with. So add some beef (or more chicken) broth and stir it all in. Put back into the oven for another hour, or cook on the stove top until vegetables are tender.

IMG_4356 (1024x765)I spooned the meat and vegetables out of the pot and into a serving bowl, leaving the sauce behind.

Now take about 2 Tablespoons of tapioca starch and put it into a little prep bowl. Add some water to it to make a mixture, not much, but enough so you can mix it and smooth is out with a mini whisk or fork.

Put the pan of wine/broth on the stove over a high heat to bring it to a boil. Once boiling, add the tapioca mixture with a whisk, stirring it into the broth. It will thicken up pretty quick. I poured this over the meat/veg mix in the bowl. Ooh-ahh. It’s ready to serve! The boys had some toast with it. (We had some homemade peasant bread) while hubby and I abstained.  Everyone thought it turned out great and there is even a little leftover to fight over for lunch the next day.

Mr big dirty pot.
Mr big dirty pot.

And I had roasted pumpkin seeds for dessert.(hee-hee-hee). Here is the recipe for those that I made 2 years ago while out kitchen was being remodeled and I did not have an oven. But ingenuity is the mother of invention, right?

I may be making pumpkin poppers today to give out to adults walking with their kids. You’ve never heard of pumpkin poppers? Where have you been? You must make some quick! Run to the store right now and get a can of pumpkin and a cake mix!! Or maybe you already have this?

It is sooo easy. You take 1 box of spice cake mix and 1 smaller can of pure pumpkin. Thats it! You mix them together (sometimes I add a shake or two of extra cinnamon) until pretty smooth and scoop them out into a mini muffin pan. Bake in a 350 oven for about 12-15 minutes. Take them out and give them the press test. Gently press the muffin. If the indent bounces back it is ready. If it sinks in, it needs more time. When cool you can sprinkle powdered sugar over them. Or what I did for the cooking class was dip the tops in melted butter and sprinkled them with cinnamon sugar. Extra yum points! Sadly I do not have any pictures of the poppers. You will just have to see them to believe them. (of course, I won’t be eating them…but I can still smell them and love seeing other people enjoy them.)

Happy Halloween!

Oh, and beware of people texting and driving. BEWARE!

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