Gypsy Stew from Outlander

Gypsy Stew from Outlander

I was cautious, but we were welcomed with expansive motions, and invited to share the Gypsies’ dinner.  It smelt delicious – some sort of stew – and I eagerly accepted the invitation, ignoring Murtagh’s dour speculations as to the basic nature of the beast that had provided the stewmeat.

They spoke little English, and less Gaelic; we conversed largely in gestures, and a sort of bastard tongue that owed its parentage largely to French.  It was warm and companionable in the caravan where we ate; men and women and children all ate casually from bowls, sitting wherever they could find space, dipping the succulent stew up with chunks of bread.  It was the best food I had had in weeks, and I ate until my sides creaked.  I could barely muster breath to sing, but did my best, humming along in the difficult spots, and leaving Murtagh to carry the tunes.

Diana Gabaldon, Outlander (Chapter 34 – Dougal’s Story)

Did I make it in time?  I’m squeezing this stew in at the last minute — the day before summer solstice isn’t necessarily when you’d expect to see stew on the menu of a food blog — but I’m hoping you’ll work with me.

For one thing, it’s the perfect recipe to make from last week’s Vegetable Stock.  For another, while it is succulent, rich and delicious, it’s not overly heavy.  Eighteenth century Gypsies in Scotland wouldn’t have had potatoes, so instead, I filled this stew with leeks, root vegetables, kale and a bottle of stout.

Lastly, if the weather is hot, the last place you want to be is in the kitchen with the oven on.  This stove-top dinner almost cooks itself and keeps you, and the house, cool as a cucumber.

Gypsy Stew

The lack of potatoes means that this stew needs some help in the thickening department.  Flouring the beef at the beginning does half the job, and finishing it with a beurre manié (French for “kneaded butter”) gives it a shiny gloss and enough body to coat the sides of the bowl while you grab one more roll to soak up all that gravy.

A beurre manié, while similar to a roux, is not the same.  A roux is an equal amount of butter and flour cooked together on the stovetop.  A beurre manié is an equal amount of butter and flour mixed together and left uncooked.

Whichever you’re using, always remember this simple rule to ensure lump-free thickening:  Add a hot roux/beurre manière to cold liquid, or a cold roux/beurre manié to hot liquid.

Did you get that?  Works every time.

beef stew

(Click on the title below for a printable version of the recipe.)

Gypsy Stew from Outlander

Beef stew made with stout and a fine collection of traditional Scottish vegetables.

Yield:  serves 6-8, with leftovers

  • Stew Beef, cubed – 2 pounds
  • All-Purpose Flour – ¼ Cup
  • Salt – 1½ tsp
  • Pepper – ½ tsp
  • Cayenne – ¼ tsp
  • Vegetable Oil – 3 Tble
  • Leeks, white & light green only, rinsed & chopped – 3 medium
  • Garlic, minced – 4 large cloves
  • Stout or other dark beer – 12 oz bottle
  • Carrots, peeled & chopped – 3 medium
  • Kale, stems removed & chopped – 1 bunch
  • Turnip, peeled and chopped – 1 small
  • Rutabaga (yellow turnip), peeled and chopped – ½ small
  • Thyme – 2 sprigs
  • Rosemary – 2 sprigs
  • Bay Leaf – 2
  • Stock or water – 4 to 6 Cups (Chicken stock recipe, Vegetable stock recipe)

Beurre Manié:

  • Butter – 2 Tble
  • Flour – 2 Tble

Pat the beef dry with paper towelling.  Mix the flour, salt, pepper and cayenne together on a large plate.  Toss the beef lightly in the flour so that it is lightly dusted on all sides.

Heat the oil in a stockpot or dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Brown the beef cubes in batches so that you don’t overcrowd the pan and the beef gets a good crust on all sides.

When the last batch of beef has been browned and removed from the pot, add the leeks, garlic and stout.  Scrape up the brown bits with a wooden spoon, and boil for 5 minutes.

Add the vegetables, herbs and stock/water to cover to the pot, stir, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for 2½ to 3 hours, or until the meat is fork tender.

Just before serving, mix together the butter and flour for the beurre manière and whisk into the hot stew.  Cook for another 5 minutes, until slightly thickened and glossy.

To Serve:  Season with salt & pepper and serve with warm bread or buns.

To Store:  Keep leftovers covered in the fridge for up to 5 days.  Freeze up to 1 month.

Ith gu leòir! (Eat Plenty)

Notes:

  • Stews (and most savoury dishes) are always better the next day.  Make this a day before serving, and thicken with the beurre manière just before serving.
  • The most famous example of a stout is Guinness.  I used a local stout with an alcohol content of about 7%.  If you don’t cook with alcohol, replace the stout with stock (preferably beef or chicken).
  • This stew has a lot more meat in it than it’s 18th C counterpart — stretch it further by increasing the amount of vegetables, or by adding some barley to the pot.  You will need more stock/water as well.
  • I didn’t add potatoes to this stew, as the Gypsies wouldn’t have had them…but this is your stew, so add them if you wish.  Wild or button mushrooms would be a delicious addition too.
  • I use the term Gypsy here to stay true to the Outlander story.  I understand that there are more contemporary names for the Romani people, depending upon their geographic location.

vegetables- GYPSY STEW

 

I am a professional chef, a food writer and an unabashed fan of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series.

29 Comments

  1. ML

    Oh I just made some homemade butter which I could use in the stew & on the bread. Yep I think this will on the menu. Thank you for this website.

    Reply

    • Theresa

      oooh, homemade creamery butter! How delicious.

      Reply

  2. OutlanderFan

    My mouth is watering already! I love that it’s a stovetop vs. oven meal and that it “almost cooks itself” – perfect for those days when we don’t feel like grilling but it’s too hot for the oven…

    Reply

    • Theresa

      And those hot days are coming, Jenn! (If they’re not already here for you)

      Reply

  3. Donna

    Yum! This looks so delicious. It’s going on my menu. Thanks Theresa!

    Reply

    • Theresa

      I hope you enjoy it, Donna!

      Reply

  4. heather ordonez

    Yummy

    Reply

  5. maile

    Everything looks deeeelish, but the thing that caught my eye was your cutting board. This may sound silly, but that cutting board is shouting its love out for all the meals it’s helped prepare. I have a wooden spoon that does that for me. Of course, they both come from trees, whose spirits are so beautiful.

    Reply

    • Theresa

      I bought that cutting board when my husband and I moved in together! Almost 20 years of chopping means it’s beautiful to me too! :D

      Reply

  6. Connie Barlow

    Cant wait for the mouth watering gravy. There will be some lick smacking at my house tonight. Thank you O.K.

    Reply

    • Theresa

      Connie — this stout gravy is right up your alley. :)

      Reply

  7. Lindsey K.

    Yum! Lots of veggies in here that I don’t think I’ve ever eaten before (sad I know). Thanks for the tip about substituting stock for the beer and for storage. Also, your PC disclaimer about using the word “Gypsy” cracked me up.

    Reply

    • Theresa

      I live on the west coast, Lindsey…what can I say about my PC tendencies? LOL

      Reply

  8. Carolyn

    I still haven’t taken even a peek at these Outlander books, but I think a tasty stew is good any time of year!

    Reply

    • Theresa

      Carolyn…what have you been doing?! Get reading! ;)

      Reply

  9. sunshineyness

    A cautious needs exact instructions cook here: If I want to do this in a crock pot would there be much difference in the prep? I just got one and am itching to try it out. I’m assuming this recipe is good for it, right?

    Reply

  10. The Mom Chef

    Oh my yes, I don’t care if it’s 100 out there, I’ll be making this. Even though I always have put potatoes in my stew, I really like keeping with how they’d have eating it and using other root vegetables instead. Talk about a flavor explosion. It looks absolutely fantastic (as usual)

    Reply

  11. bullrem

    I am behind in my reading. I kinda laugh when I hear folks comment about stews and soups not being served when it is Summer. Don’t you eat other food cooked and hot from time to time in the summer? It is not all salads and watermelow… LOL.
    This sounds great. I have never added beer (stout) to soup, but I will try it now.
    Helen in Ark.

    Reply

    • Theresa

      I’m with you, Helen! But I gotta try to convince the rest of the crowd, you know? LOL

      Reply

  12. Gn

    I just finished with Outlander, and I’m halfway through DIA. And it’s just because I picked up the first book by accident in a second hand bookstore! And now I’ve stumbled on your site, I’ll be definitely making this one since we have the long chilly (well, it’s typhoon season in my part of the world) weekend ahead of us and the rest of the books to read!

    Reply

  13. Murphy’s Beef Broth from Voyager « Outlander Kitchen

    [...] Gypsy Stew from Outlander [...]

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  14. Ute McGillivray’s Beer Battered Corn Fritters « Outlander Kitchen

    [...] much around here, but beer gone flat can be used to add rich malty flavour to everything from beef stew to these corn fritters.  We may pour it down the drain, but that would have been sacrilege to dear [...]

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  15. Paschendale

    I would think the basic elements of this recipe would do nicely in a crock pot. Then it would only have to go briefly to the stovetop for thickening. Then it would really be hot weather-friendly. I agree with some of the earlier posts; it is never a bad time of the year for stew.

    Reply

    • Theresa

      Great idea, Paschendale!

      Reply

  16. John Cumberbatch

    I was looking of the oyster stew…wanted to try that one.

    Reply

    • Theresa

      That recipe will appear in a future Outlander Kitchen Cookbook…can’t give away all my secrets for free! ;)

      Reply

  17. Patricia

    Will make this on Saturday as fall is fast approaching on east coast. I worked with Gypsies (Roma) in eastern Europe for several years, and your are correct! Many different names, i.e. Kalderash, Sinti, Lovar, depending on where they live, and what caste they are in. But generally, they are referred to as Roma, Rom, Romani, etc… (and sometimes spelled with two “r’s”, Rroma…). Fascinating and wonderful time in my life….

    Reply

  18. janet

    I made the stew last night. My first outlander recipe. My family enjoyed very much!

    Reply

    • Theresa

      I`m glad everyone liked it, Janet! What`s next? :)

      Reply

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