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.

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

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