Ryan Thomas is a university graduate who enjoys cooking recipes from a wide variety of culinary traditions.
Recently, I was leafing through a cookbook about the cuisine of Georgia (the European country, not the U.S. state) called The Georgian Feast: The Vibrant Culture and Savory Food of the Republic of Georgia, by Darra Goldstein. In this book, I found a fascinating beef stew recipe—fascinating because it incorporates pickles.
Pickles in a beef stew? It certainly sounded different than the soups and stews I've made before. Perhaps Georgians like tart food.
I decided to give the recipe a try, and I can tell you it definitely works. The pickles, as well as the capers, give a wonderfully sour note that accompanies the tart balsamic vinegar. Rich and hearty tones come from the beef sautéed in onion, and the tomato provides a vibrantly fruity burst of umami.
I made quite a few variations to the original recipe, the primary one being the inclusion of gnocchi pasta. The gnocchi balances the intense flavors found elsewhere in the stew, and it provides it a good base, as well.
While stew does take an hour in the oven to cook, the preparation is remarkably simple. It is great accompanied with bread.
As noted above, I adapted this recipe from The Georgian Feast: The Vibrant Culture and Savory Food of the Republic of Georgia, by Darra Goldstein.
- 2 pounds stew-quality beef (I used chuck roast), trimmed of fat
- 1 onion, peeled and diced
- 2 pickles
- 1/3 cup capers
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and diced
- 1/2 cup tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 cups white wine (or water, in a pinch)
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 (16-ounce) package gnocchi
- In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Add in the beef which has had its fat cut off and which has been cut into 1-inch cubes, as well as seasoned with salt and pepper.
- Add in the flour, and brown the meat on all sides. Once it is brown, add in the onion, peeled and diced, and garlic, peeled and diced, and cook for a few minutes more. Deglaze with the white wine and then cook for 5 minutes over low heat.
- Add in the rest of the ingredients: pickles, capers, thyme, tomato paste, gnocchi, and balsamic vinegar.
- Place, uncovered, into an oven preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook for 1 hour, then remove, allow to rest a few minutes before serving.