Bottom of the Barrel Bison Stew (gluten free, ACD friendly)


Before I left for New York last week, I did a really good job of eating up all my fresh produce.  All I left behind in my fridge were some long storing root vegetables, a bunch of fermented food, some condiments, and the contents of my freezer.

Then I got home, and I was hungry, but going grocery shopping just didn't sound so great.  Thankfully, I have a freezer full of bean-based soups, meat, and frozen peas, among other things.  I think peas multiply when the freezer door is closed, because somehow, I never seem to run out of them.  But unfortunately, a girl can only eat so many super beany soups in one day, peas eventually get kind of boring, and thawing out a couple of GF muffins to eat with brown rice cereal, carrots, and Sunbutter just doesn't constitute a balanced meal (my dinner the night I got home...).

So what does a girl - namely, me - do with a bunch of frozen meat, some leftover beans, jars of sauerkraut, some onions, and those trusty root veggies?  Oh yeah, and have I mentioned that it is -2* F outside and there is no way in hell I am leaving the house again to get more food?  Oh, Minnesota...
A girl makes Bottom of the Barrel Bison Stew, that's what.

Back when people ate according to the seasons out of necessity, they ate stews like this, made of those long storage vegetables, meats, and preserved vegetables.  They did not have frozen peas, like I have the luxury of enjoying, but in spirit, this is a stew of days of old.  It is food made for weather like this, when it is so cold that your nose hairs freeze when you inhale.

Anyway, this stew is tasty, cheap, makes a ton, and brings new life to all those funky things that are always knocking around the bottom of your crisper, the back of your fridge, the shelves of your pantry, and the corners of your freezer.  If you are on the ACD and can tolerate starchy veggies, this is a great soup option for you, since it is grain free, yeast free, and high in protein.  A lively and rich assortment of herbs and spices add a nice touch - add what you tolerate, omit what you don't.  I'm cautiously trying out paprika in my diet again, and this stew benefits from a healthy portion of it.  Even the most humble of ingredients can undergo a makeover of epic proportions with some good seasonings.  Seriously, a well-stocked spice rack is the best investment you can make!  This stew is delicious; rich, flavorful, filling, and absolutely perfect for those hellishly chilly days that make you wonder why you choose to live somewhere that puts you through such torture for 6 months of the year.  Now I can delay grocery shopping even longer...


Bottom of the Barrel Bison Stew

yield 4-6 servings

1 lb bison or beef stew meat
1 large parsnip, diced
1/2 large rutabaga, diced
1-1 1/2 cup diced carrot
3 cups chopped onions
4 T olive oil or ghee
2 Tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp ground dry mustard
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 bay leaf
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup sauerkraut, drained
1/2-1 cup cooked chickpeas
1 tsp dry parsley
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp salt, pepper to taste
1 qt water
Heat 2 T oil or ghee in a large stockpot, then add cumin seeds and heat until they start to smell fragrant.  Add onions and garlic, and saute over medium heat until they soften. Add parsnips, rutabaga, and carrot, along with coriander, mustard, and paprika, cover, and saute until the veggies start to soften, about 5-8 minutes.

While veggies saute, heat 2 T oil or ghee in a large saute pan, then add stew meat and quickly sear, just so the meat is browned on all sides but not cooked through.  Remove from heat, and add meat to vegetables.  Heat a small amount of water in the pan, scraping off any bits of meat, and transfer liquid to pot with vegetables and meat. Add bay leaf and water to pot, heat to a just barely a simmer, then reduce to low and cook until meat and vegetables are tender and cooked through, about 30 minutes.

Add sauerkraut, peas, and chickpeas, as well as parsley and thyme, and cook for about 5-10 more minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve hot.