Paleo Rosemary & Thyme Beef Stew over Garlic Cauliflower Mashers

Summer is my middle name. I'm not just saying that--it really is! It's totally appropriate, because I love summertime. Flip flops, tank tops, morning runs and potlucks? Count me in. The drearier months do little to excite me: soggy snow, slow traffic and frozen toes. It's easy to dwell on the drawbacks of winter, especially when it snows in the middle of the week. This weekend however, we got somewhere near 20 inches of snow and after playing in it like a kid, I remembered: winter can be fun too. 

It looks like this outside:

These days, my opportunities to enjoy the snow are few and far between. It's an obstacle more often than not, making my drive into town twice as long as it should be, not to mention twice as nerve racking. It means breaking out the snow shovel and wearing boots. But you know what? This time, I'm more than ok with it. It's not summer--it's far from summer- but it's the most beautiful, fluffy snow I've seen in years. Trudging through a hill covered in snow is at least twice as hard as climbing a hill without snow, but turning around and sliding back down on your butt brings out your inner five-year-old. Have you ever build a snowman? An ingloo? Skied through your back yard? This storm is reminded me of the snow days I had as a kid, and tempted me to lay down and make a snow angel, or ten snow angels, just because I could. 

Sometimes, it's good to let out your inner child and slide down the hill on your butt. 

Jumping head first into the powder is twice as nice when there's an Instant Pot full of stew at home waiting for you. Served over Garlic-Herb Cauliflower Mashers, this Paleo Rosemary & Thyme Beef Stew is exactly the type of meal you want after a day in the cold. Its a satisfying, creamy, saucy bowl of umami. It may be simple, but the flavor of herbs and fennel seed add depth and intricacy. 

When it's cold outside, it's should really look like this inside: 

Paleo Rosemary & Thyme Beef Stew over Garlic Cauliflower Mashers

1 pound ground beef

1 medium white onion, finely diced

1 teaspoon coconut oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 stalks celery, chopped small

2 large carrots, diced

2 cups baby portobello mushrooms, quartered

1 teaspoon fennel seed

1 star anise

4 springs thyme

1 spring rosemary

2 tablespoons arrowroot powder

1 cup dry red wine

4 cups bone broth

Salt

Garlic-Herb Cauliflower Mashers (recipe below)

 

1. In the bottom of your Instant Pot, melt the coconut oil (use the "sauté" setting).

2. Add the onion, garlic, mushrooms and celery, sautéing until the onions are translucent. Add the arrowroot powder, stirring it in so that it coats the vegetables. Pour in the wine.

3. Add the beef, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, and then the carrots. Toss the fennel and anise seed in, stirring again, and then add the herbs on top. Pour in the broth, and add a few cracks or shakes of salt. 

4. Close the pressure cooker, and set to the "stew" setting. Set timer for 10 minutes. Once the timer goes off, leave the pot to depressurize on its own. This will give the flavors a chance to meld together. 

5. Serve hot over Garlic-Herb Cauliflower Mashers (recipe below the next photo).

Garlic-Herb Cauliflower Mashers

1 pound cauliflower

1 teaspoon butter or coconut oil

1 clove garlic

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary

1 tablespoon fresh thyme

Salt and Pepper

 

1. Steam the cauliflower until softened through. 

2. While the cauliflower cooks, mince the garlic. Sautee in the garlic in the butter over medium heat in a skillet until golden. 

3. Use a spatula to scrape the garlic and butter into a blender. Strain the cauliflower and add it to the blender along with the herbs. Puree until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve hot. 

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Harissa Goat Shanks with Carrots, Tomatoes, & Butternut Puree (Paleo)

I have a love-hate relationship with our pressured cooker. It may be energy efficient and convenient, but as soon as it's closed, it's closed. There's no peeking in. There's no poking the food for doneness. There's no turning back. It drives me nuts. If you're like Oliver, and speed is the trump-all factor, a pressure cooker is your dream. If you're like me, and you want to watch your food the entire time it cooks, a pressure cooker might just drive you crazy. There's no finesse. No way to tweak as you go. Really, you have to let go of your inner control freak and let the machine do the cooking. 

No wonder it drive me nuts. 

Despite how much I despise the process, I admit that the pressure cooker might be the most useful kitchen appliance we have. Our Instant Pot looks like R2D2, minus the "arms". ...If those are arms… See: 

Twins. Sort of. Long lost cousins? They're related somehow. 

Anyways, the Instant Pot is a pressure cooker/slow cooker hybrid. Here's where the love comes in. One of the best things about this little robot is it allows us to start a meal in the morning, go climbing all day, and come home to a warm homemade meal that would have taken hours to make otherwise. So while we're out playing, the Instant Pot is chugging away, making pretty much any sort of meat fall-off the bone tender. We get home, serve it up, and I take all the credit. See why this thing is gaining my affections? 

The view from Central Flatirons, our go-to spot for day trip climbing.

When you're tired and hungry, everything tastes good. This Harissa Goat Shank, however, tastes amazing whether you're tired or not. A knife is not necessary--after 4 hours in R2D2, a fork is all you need to pull off succulent pieces of meat from these goat shanks. In fact, I think I ate this entire meal with the spoon that was sitting in front of me when I served the dish. 

 The bold flavor of Harissa gives the shanks flavor without over shadowing the goat, which is a surprisingly subtle meat. The tomatoes and carrots are sweet, especially after a day of stewing. It's the sort of dish that takes your mouth halfway across the world and back, conjuring up visions of the middle east. It's the sort of meal you want to make again, the very next day. 

Harissa Goat Shank with Tomatoes & Carrots over Butternut Purée

2 tablespoons coconut oil

1 medium onion, diced

2 young goat shanks

Homemade Tunisian-Style Harissa (recipe follows)

4 ripe roma tomatoes, diced

6 garlic cloves, minced

2 large carrots, diced

Salt & pepper

1/4 cup dry red wine

1/2 cup bone broth

1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced. 

Homemade Tunisian-Style Harissa

1 ounce guajillo chilies (roughly 4-5 dried chilies)

Water

1/2 teaspoon coriander

1/4 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon caraway 

1 garlic clove

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons avocado oil or melted coconut oil

 

Make the harissa: Soak the chilies in water over night (or cheat: place the chilies in a microwave safe contain full of water and put in the microwave until the water boils and the chilies are soft. Drain the softened chilies, and place in a blender with the remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth. Store in air-tight container. 

For the goat: Turn your slow cooker on low and heat the coconut oil in the bottom of the bowl. Add the onions. 

While the onions brown, prepare the goat--peel and trim away any leathery membrane and patches of fat. Goat is a very lean meat so don't concern yourself with peeling off everything (some of that fat will add good flavor). Rub the prepared shanks down with Harissa sauce, and then place in the bottom of the slow cooker to brown. Turn the shanks after a few minutes and brown the other side. 

Add the wine to the pot, along with the broth. Scatter the diced tomatoes, minced garlic, and carrots around the pot. Add salt and pepper. Close the slow cooker and set it for 4 hours. 

When the slow cooker is almost done, steam the butternut squash in a steam basket for 8 minutes. (TIP: Alternatively, before you start the slow cooker, simply leave the butternut squash in two halves, place a steam basket OVER the goat shanks in the slow cooker, and put the butternut squash in the basket.  When the goat is done, the squash will be too!). Mash the squash with a potato masher or in a blender. 

To serve, spread a scoop of squash on a plate, top with a shank. Then drizzle with the softened carrots, tomatoes, and pan sauce. 

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