Colonial Kitchen // Beef Stew with Leeks + Fennel

Are you pumped for more recipes from the Colonial Kitchen? I have been having so much fun researching recipes, finding some that I think will fit well, and also learning more about what types of foods were eaten throughout the American Colonies! Let's stop for a minute and recognize my obsession with Diana Gabaldon's Outlander. Sadly, I haven't really had time to sit down and read more of the books, which is a shame because I love them so much. To keep my Claire + Jamie fill, I usually watch the show or I head over to the blog Outlander Kitchen. Have you read it? Maybe I'm just a big nerd! I received the accompanying book for the blog over the holidays, and it is awesome!! The more I work on new ideas, the more I realize that everything in my life (and probably most people's) is connected. Isn't that funny? While researching colonial food, I've been looking into more of the regional cuisine that was feasted upon. In my research, it was interesting to learn that most of the settlers in the "Backcountry" of the colonies were of Scottish or Scots-Irish descent. That's where Diana had Jamie and Claire settle in Drums of Autumn! Spoilers!! She's a clever lady, but anyway... it was kind of an OH! moment for me. Funny how food trends start, right? That makes the Backcountry filled with food based on Scottish and Irish tradition!

In relation, my ancestors settled in the New England territory of the colonies. You remember from my last post that my ancestors were some of the first people to settle on Long Island. That means the cuisine was a bit different. The people that generally made home in New England (New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island, and Connecticut) were Puritans hailing from England. Their food was a bit bland, as they didn't really like to embellish much - that was too distracting from their religious practice! I am going to assume that beef was not a very common meat of choice in the colonies. The more I read, game meats and fish were typical as they were easier to find. But I was in the mood for a hearty beef stew! Soups and stews were typically made as an afterthought at the time, a place for leftover meats and vegetables to be used and eaten up quick! 

INGREDIENTS // 

  • 1.5 lbs beef chuck steak, cubed for stewing
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups leeks, chopped
  • 2 cups fennel, diced + remove the fronds and stalks
  • 2-3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 cup hearty red wine
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp fresh sage, chopped finely
  • 1 tsp fresh mint, chopped finely
  • salt + pepper

RECIPE // 

  • In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Brown the beef until medium rare. Add in the leeks, fennel, and celery and cook until soft, about 5-7 minutes. 
  • Pour in the red wine, honey, vinegar, and heavy cream and mix to coat the vegetables and beef. Stir in the spices and herbs, along with some salt + pepper to taste. The flavor is so rich!!
  • Bring to a boil. Preheat your oven to 275. Cover the stew and place in the oven for 3 hours.

The flavor of the red wine, vinegar, cloves, and ginger make this recipe really quite unique! We all were a bit surprised when we ate it, expecting more of a hearty taste, and though this was hearty indeed it was sweet and robust. I found the original recipe here, and it was advertised as a medieval themed recipe. I figured that I could dull it down a bit, I'm not one for finding incredibly fancy ingredients, and turn it into something a bit more easy to achieve. I added the cream as I wanted the texture to be a bit softer. So tasty! Have fun making this one. 

xoxo Kayla