I’m currently sitting at my computer with a blanket and a cat on my lap, and wearing a hoodie and house slippers for the first time this year. Sounds like the perfect time to break out a stew recipe.
Pichelsteiner is a very typical stew, found in similar shapes and sizes all over the world. There are several stories to explain its invention, a common trait among stews. One folk tale details how a farmer’s wife fed the stew to a group of marauding soldiers, saving the day (and her family) with this new culinary invention. Another tale explains how a Bavarian chef prepared Pichelsteiner for party atop Büchelstein mountain (allegedly, the name of this dish morphed from there). Finally, the small Bavarian village of Regen, along the Czech border, claims ownership of this dish as well, which they have communally served at the anniversary of their church’s dedication in 1874.
Pichelsteiner shares another feature with other regional stews: it serves as the solution to those pesky leftovers that creep up in the fridge. As truly communal fare, the stew incorporates a spectrum of ingredients available to pre-industrial Germans: mushrooms, onion, carrots, leeks, cabbage, potatoes, and three types of meat. So if you don’t have all the ingredients, or if you have a couple extra that aren’t listed below, don’t fret – there’s a lot of wiggle room here.
Pichelsteiner (Gluten-free, Paleo, Primal, Whole30)
1 lb boneless stew beef, cut into 1” chunks
1 lb boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1” chunks
1 lb boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 1” chunks
3 tbsp all-purpose gluten-free flour or white rice flour
1/2 tsp salt, more to taste
1/2 tsp black pepper, more to taste
3 tbsp lard or ghee
1 onion, diced (about 1 cup diced)
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 oz dried wild or porcini mushrooms
1 lb starchy potatoes (russet, yukon gold, or similar), peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
3 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped (about 1 cup chopped)
1 leek, sliced (about 1 cup sliced)
1/2 head (~1 lb) green or savoy cabbage, cut into bite-sized chunks (about 3 cups chopped)
chopped parsley to garnish
1. Place the beef, pork, and lamb in a large mixing bowl; pat dry with paper towels, then toss with the flour, salt, and pepper until evenly coated. Warm the lard in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Brown the meat in batches to prevent overcrowding, turning often, until dark brown and crispy at the edges, about 8 minutes per batch. Remove each batch with a slotted spoon and set aside, adding more lard to the pot if needed.
2. Once the meat is browned and out of the way, add the onions and reduce heat to medium; saute until softened, about 6 minutes. Return the meats to the pot and add the chicken broth and enough water to reach 3/4 of the way up the meat. Bring to a simmer, stirring with a wooden spoon and scraping up any browned bits at the bottom of the pot, then cover and reduce heat to low; simmer until the meats are just tender, about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. As the meats simmer, place the mushrooms in a small bowl and cover with warm water; set aside to reconstitute, about 15 minutes, then chop into bite-sized pieces (reserve the water you soaked them in).
3. Stir in the potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, and the water you soaked the mushrooms in (minus any sediment that has accumulated at the bottom); simmer, uncovered, for another 20 minutes, stirring once or twice. Stir in the leek and cabbage, and simmer until the meat and vegetables are tender, about 10 more minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste, then serve garnished with parsley.
** Electric pressure cooker (Instant Pot) instructions: Brown the floured meats in batches using the “Saute” function of the pressure-cooker, then remove the meats and saute the onions. Return the meats to the pot, plus the chicken broth, then pressure-cook under Manual high pressure for 30 minutes. Allow to depressurize naturally, then add the potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, leek, and cabbage, and pressure-cook for another 8 minutes. Allow to depressurize naturally, season with salt and pepper to taste, then serve garnished with chopped parsley.
** For a richer experience, throw a couple marrow bones in the pot with the meat.
Note: In the year leading up to my new cookbook’s release, I will be regularly releasing these recipes to 1) maintain a continuing conversation with my readership and 2) give visitors to this site an opportunity to test and provide feedback before editing. For more information on this new approach, read my post here.