Whenever I travel, one of the first things I do is figure out what food that region is known for and I try to make sure enjoy plenty of it. For instance, France it is all about wine and cheese, Wyoming it is the Buffalo, Hawaii there is an abundance of great sushi, Boston it is about the lobsters, etc.. you get it by now. When I think of Montana the first thing that comes to mind is Montana Beef and after today, now I am questioning all of the beef inspired meals I have had there the past 14 years.
When one is out in the wild wild west as we are this week, one would think that you would be eating the freshest and hopefully most humanely cuts of beef; right? After all, my family’s house is sandwiched amongst a few different cattle ranches. One would also think that the local grocery store (only Safeway & Iga) would sell the beef that is right in the backyard. One would also think that there would be a local butcher so that you could take advantage of all that great Montana beef.
Then I find out that most of the ranches sell their cattle to slaughterhouses far from Dillon for the actual slaughtering. This shocks me. Then after picking up the beef for dinner I see the words I hoped to never see, when there are cattle running around your house, printed on the label, “product of the USA or Mexico”, which clearly translates to, “not from Dillon”; this shocks me even more, after all the resources are in their backyards.
Normally, I take some beef and barely season it with some sea salt and pepper and proceed from there. The flavor is so intense that, that is all you really need. It was a good thing that I was planning on making a slowly roasted beef stew, as this beef was going to need the braising and seasonings that were additional. I was once again reminded about how lucky we are to be in the area we are in. How lucky we are to have an abundance of great produce, dairy and meat all within a 100 miles of our home. How lucky we are that we can take advantage of these natural resources and don’t have to give back to the “big chain” supermarkets.
Tonight we used a slow roasted beef stew recipe from the December issue of Gourmet. Despite the fact that we used beef that may have been from someplace far out of reach, the flavor was very good especially with the addition of balsamic vinegar and dry red wine. As well the carrots and potatoes were only added for the last 40 minutes, which left them pleasantly crunchy and not overcooked. We served this stew with Buttermilk Biscuits which were seasoned with green onion, black pepper and sea salt and lots of butter – definitely not the biscuit if you are on a diet!
Cannot wait to try this recipe when we get home using some meat from over the Golden Gate.
Montana Beef Slow Roasted Beef Stew
5 pounds boneless beef chuck (not lean), cut into 2-inch pieces
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 carrots, quartered
3 celery ribs, quartered
2 medium onions, quartered
1 head garlic, halved crosswise
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 (750-ml) bottle dry red wine (about 3 3/4 cups)
2 Turkish bay leaves or 1 California
2 thyme sprigs
3 cups reduced-sodium beef broth
3 cups water
2 1/2 pounds small white boiling potatoes
1 1/2 pounds carrots
Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.
Pat beef dry and season with 2 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper.
Heat oil in a pot over medium-high heat until it shimmers, then brown meat, without crowding, in 3 batches, turning, about 8 minutes per batch.
Transfer to a platter.
Reduce heat to medium, then add carrots, celery, onions, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until well browned, about 12 minutes.
Push vegetables to one side of the pot. Add tomato paste to cleared area and cook paste, stirring, 2 minutes, then stir into vegetables.
Add vinegar and cook, stirring, 2 minutes.
Stir in wine, bay leaves, and thyme and boil until wine is reduced by about two thirds, 10 to 12 minutes.
Add broth to pot along with water, beef, and any juices from platter and bring to a simmer.
Cover and braise in oven until meat is very tender, about 2 1/2 hours.
Set a large colander in a large bowl.
Pour stew into a colander.
Return pieces of meat to pot, then discard remaining solids.
Let cooking liquid stand 10 minutes.
Cook potatoes and carrots:
While beef braises, peel potatoes and cut into 1/2-inch-wide wedges.
Slice carrots diagonally (1-inch).
Add potatoes and carrots to stew (make sure they are submerged) and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until potatoes and carrots are tender, about 30- 40 minutes.