Used by chefs as natural choices for enhancing the flavor in savory dishes, dark chocolate, and port wine does not add sweetness, but quite unexpectedly, delivers richness and depth to this cold-weather humble beef stew recipe.
Salt the beef, and place it into the heavy Pot with the butter. Roast uncovered on the upper-middle rack until browned, approximately 15-20 minutes.
Remove the meat from the oven, add the gluten-free all-purpose flour, stir to coat, then transfer the meat to a bowl.
For the Vegetables
Prepare the vegetables in a bite-sized dice and spread out onto a foil-lined baking sheet. Toss with olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Roast on the bottom rack, uncovered 15-20 minutes.
To Make the Stew
Using the same Pot from the meat, add the onion, celery, and garlic, cooking over medium-high heat on the stovetop for 3-5 minutes. Deglaze the Pot by adding the port wine, using a spoon to scrape and remove any browned bits from the bottom. Continue cooking until the wine has reduced by about half. Add the broth, tomatoes, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, and salt. Return the meat to the Pot. Bring the stew to a boil, cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the beef is very tender (about 2 hours), stirring occasionally.
About 30 minutes before the stew is ready, transfer the roasted vegetables to the Pot. Continue to simmer stew with the lid on until the veggies are easily pierced with a fork.
When the veggies are tender, stir in the chocolate to taste, until melted. Adjust the seasoning with more salt and pepper as desired. The stew should be thick and richly colored. To make it soupier, add a little more beef broth until the desired consistency is reached.
Serve plain or ladle on top of cooked rice, polenta, or noodles, garnish with Pepitas for a dash of color.
*Unsure about the chocolate, and you don’t have any Port, or want to skip them altogether? Leave them out. This beef stew is still a super comforting meal to make that requires only a little time in the kitchen when your favorite thing to do in life is relaxing.