We’re in the thick of stew season here in the US; this is the time of year where I like to spend my lazy weekend afternoons filling the house with the smells of simmering meat and winter vegetables. Unfortunately for stew season, but fortunately for us, our little part of Florida is still experiencing warm weather: as I type this, it’s 74F outside right now. Understandably, I’ve had a hard time getting into the winter stew spirit, as warm weather calls for warm-weather food.
So this past weekend I decided to mix both worlds, combining the comforts of cooking a stew and the flavors of an exotic dish. Today’s recipe for Curried Beef Stew doesn’t quite have a distinct origin, and its flavor is equal parts Indonesian Beef Rendang and Japanese Curry (the latter’s recipe is found in my debut cookbook, The Ancestral Table): earthy, hearty, and exceptionally rich.
In developing this dish, I wanted to appeal to many audiences. The recipe is Whole30-friendly, to be used as a resource for those who are starting their New Year off with some squeaky-clean eating. Included at the bottom of the recipe are also instructions for those of you who were recently gifted an Instant Pot electric pressure cooker, or are dusting it off after a period of neglect. Finally, I was careful to choose ingredients that are readily available at any grocery store – no need to hunt down particular items across several different markets.
Quick note as you are grocery shopping: there are two bell peppers in this recipe – one in the paste, and another in the stew itself!
Like in some previous recipes, I used the grass-fed beef from my friends at Butcher Box, who deliver curated boxes of high-quality meats to your doorstep, complete with recipe cards for the meats they provide (including recipes from yours truly). In addition to chuck roast, this recipe will work well with boneless short ribs or stew meat.
Curried Beef Stew (Gluten-free, Perfect Health Diet, Paleo, Primal, Whole30)
1 red bell pepper, stem and seeds removed, coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic
4 shallots, coarsely chopped
1″ ginger, sliced (or 1/2 tsp ground ginger)
2 tbsp mild curry powder
1 tbsp fish sauce
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
10 macadamia nuts (cashews okay)
1/2 cup beef broth
spicy peppers (bird’s eye, jalapeno, serrano, etc) to taste (optional)
2 tbsp coconut oil, ghee, or olive oil
2-3 lbs chuck roast, boneless short ribs, or stew meat, cut into 1.5″ chunks
kosher salt and black pepper to taste
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
1 can coconut milk
1 red bell pepper, stem and seeds removed, sliced
1 large handful (about 40z) fresh spinach
1. Combine the curry paste ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth (pictured above), then set aside. As written, this recipe will not be spicy; to add some kick, add spicy peppers or replace the mild curry powder with a spicier version (like this one).
2. In a dutch oven or deep skillet, warm the oil over medium-high heat. Pat the chuck roast dry with some paper towels, then generously season with salt and pepper. Brown the beef, in batches if needed to avoid overcrowding the skillet, turning the beef every few minutes. This is your only chance to add an appealing texture to the beef, and you want to create a deep brown crust on each side; take your time! As you finish browning each piece of beef, set them aside on a plate.
3. Once you have browned all of the beef, reduce the skillet heat to medium. If you’re running out of oil, throw in another tbsp. Add the curry paste to the skillet, and cook it until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Stir in the bay leaves, cinnamon stick, and coconut milk; once the ingredients are well-combined, return the beef pieces and any accumulated juices. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until the beef is tender, about 2 hours.
4. Once the beef is tender, stir in the sliced bell pepper. Cook until bright red and tender, about 2 minutes, then add in the spinach. Stir together until the spinach is bright green and wilted, about 1 minute. Add salt and pepper to taste, then serve with white rice or enjoy as-is.
** Electric pressure cooker (Instant Pot) instructions: for step #1, only use 1/4 cup beef broth. For step #2, brown the beef in the pressure cooker using its “Sauté” setting, and use that same setting to cook the curry paste in step #3; at the end of step #3, set the pressure cooker to the “Meat/Stew” setting for 40 minutes. Allow the pressure cooker to depressurize naturally for 15 minutes, then force-depressurize and proceed to step #4.
** Oven instructions: at the end of step #4, place the dutch oven in a pre-heated 275F oven and continue the recipe as written; finish with the bell pepper and spinach while on the stovetop.