While the chilly temperatures and talk of snow from the past week have made me fidgety for spring, I am delighted at the idea of snow falling outside with a simmering pot of this beef and green chile stew on the stove (or crockpot). No matter what the weather brings, this is a stew that will offer warmth and nourishment.
I know this may sound a bit wild being that this is a beef stew recipe, but if you skip the meat, use vegetable broth, double the vegetables and add greens at the end, the green chile and horseradish make this a delicious veggie stew. Or you could use chicken and chicken broth. Or bison, venison, elk or pork.
The recipe calls for tossing the meat with salt, pepper and masa harina before searing. Not only does the corn flour help the beef brown beautifully, it also functions as a natural thickening agent, which will result in a silky stew broth with just a hint of roasted corn flavor.
Horseradish is part of the hot radish family and is a close relative to wasabi. Often horseradish can be found in the produce section at the grocery store, usually near the ginger and turmeric. Used in the stew, it mellows and adds a soft layer of horseradish flavor without the intense zip and zing. If you cannot find fresh horseradish to grate yourself, I suggest finding a jar of prepared horseradish at the store. This is horseradish usually preserved in vinegar and water. I would not use a horseradish sauce, which will have all kinds of other things added. If substituting with prepared horseradish, use less than what the recipe calls for — carefully add a spoonful at a time until it tastes good to you.
Beef and Green Chile Stew
Makes: 6-8 servings; total time: 3 hours
4 slices, applewood smoked bacon, diced
2 pounds beef stew meat, trimmed of excess fat
2 tablespoons masa harina
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large red onion, diced
5 large carrots, sliced into 1-inch pieces
4 celery heart stalks, sliced into 1-inch pieces
2 red bell peppers, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
½ cup freshly grated horseradish
4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried rosemary
2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
4 tablespoons tomato paste
½ cup red wine
2 cups (1 pint), mild green chile, seeded and diced
5 large Yukon Gold potatoes, diced
8 cups beef broth
Salt and pepper to taste
Preparation: In a large, heavy-bottomed pot over low heat, slowly cook the bacon until the fat is rendered and the bacon crispy. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and reserve in a medium bowl. Turn heat up to medium-high. Gently toss the trimmed beef with the masa harina, salt and pepper. Sear the meat on all sides until caramelized, working in batches if needed so as not to overcrowd the pan. Reserve meat in the bowl with the bacon.
Add olive oil to the pot and lower heat to medium. Add the onion, carrots, celery, red bell peppers and cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the horseradish, garlic, oregano, rosemary and thyme. Cook for a few minutes more, being careful not to burn the garlic. Move the vegetables to one side of the pot and add the tomato paste; stir for around five minutes, letting it caramelize and thicken. It might be tempting to rush this step, but letting the tomato paste brown will result in wonderful flavor. Stir the vegetables and tomato paste all together and add the wine. Scrape any bits of goodness from the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon.
Add the green chile, potatoes, reserved bacon and beef and broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 2-3 hours, or until the beef is tender. Check seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed.