Note: this beef stew with edible pansies recipe is a continuation of the recipes I made during the Marx Foods Edible Flower Photography Challenge. My photo of a lemon pudding cake is in a competition against eight others for the best food photo using edible flowers. The first round of voting is taking place now, and you can cast your vote by “liking” my photo at this link. Right here. Do it. Right now. I’ll still be here when you get back. Thank you! (You can see the original post I wrote here.)
Meimei loves beef.
I talk a lot about Ge Ge (my four-year-old son) and his amazing eating habits, but Meimei (my two-year-old daughter) is no slouch at the dining table, either. She’s pretty game for trying new things for the most part, but the funniest thing is that her likes and dislikes are the exact opposite of Ge Ge’s. He loves veggies and sometimes resists red meat. She’s hesitant to try veggies but loves a good steak. Before she had molars, Meimei would suck the juice out of a piece of meat, leaving the shriveled dregs laying around her plate. It’s never pretty, but it gets the job done, I guess.
I braise or slow-cook tougher cuts of meat a lot because of Meimei. Give her a fall-apart beef stew and she’ll come running, clamoring up her high chair and demanding, “I wan’ ma lunch.” She talks with a very pronounced Southern drawl. You can take a girl out of the South…
When I was looking around for recipes that incorporate edible flowers, I was really surprised to find very little out there in terms of actually cooking with edible flowers. I found recipes for infusing flowers into simple syrups, for adorning gorgeous cakes, and for adding color and vibrant flavor to salads. Finally, I landed on a recipe that I thought was a really interesting and different use for edible flowers — beef stew.
“Sacre bleu!” I thought to myself (sometimes, when I’m reading recipes, I’ve noticed I take on the accent of a cranky French man, or Lumiere from Beauty & the Beast. I don’t know. I’m weird.) “I could make a beef stew with flowers, and Meimei would love me for ages!” (I cook to show my love for my friends and family, but I also do it because I seek love through my cooking. I have a highly co-dependent relationship with food.)
I threw some of the edible pansies (which, if you remember, have a fresh, grassy flavor) into my stew while it was cooking instead of the usual scallions that I normally use, then served the stew over creamy grits mixed with black pepper and grated Pecorino cheese. I found that the pansies were much milder than scallions and brought a lightness to an otherwise hearty sauce. The creamy grits also helped balanced the acidity of the tomatoes in my beef stew.
I ended up serving the stew about 30 minutes before the meat would have been fall-apart ready, mainly because I had hungry kids and unexpected lunch guests. Does that ever happen to you? I love our neighborhood and our friends here in DC so much. We have a constant rotating cast of characters drop by all the time on a moment’s notice, which probably says more about their fly-by-night nature than anything about me. But I love having friends visit, and it’s always a fun challenge to figure out what to make with what I have on hand. Since I’d spent my morning stewing (literally), it was a no-brainer to serve my guests with this stew after I’d photographed it.
I guess what I’m saying is, come over! Let’s eat!
- 2 pounds top sirloin cut into one-inch cubes
- 3 tablespoons flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ cup red wine
- 2 cups beef broth
- 2-3 carrots, sliced into rounds
- 3-4 thin-skinned small potatoes, quartered
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary leaves
- 1 clove minced garlic
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- ½ cup edible flowers, divided (optional)
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- Mix together flour, pepper and salt in a low bowl, then toss cubed sirloin lightly. Remove meat and put on a clean plate, shaking off excess flour.
- Heat olive oil over medium-high in a deep, heavy pan with a tight-fitting lid (put the lid to the side while you're heating the oil). Add meat, turning frequently to brown on all sides. While meat is browning, and rinse and dry the plate the meat was on and set to the side.
- When the meat has been thoroughly browned, remove it from the pot and place it on the clean plate.
- Reduce the heat to medium. Add garlic and stir carefully for one minute. Add wine and stir quickly, scraping up all the brown bits on the pan to deglaze it.
- Add broth, tomato paste, thyme, bay leaf and ¼ cup edible pansies. Bring to a boil, then add meat. Cover pan with lid and place in oven to braise for 2 hours.
- After two hours, remove the pan from the oven and add the potatoes and carrots. Cover the pot and return it to the oven for another 45 minutes to 1 hour, until meat is tender and vegetables are cooked through. Garnish with remaining pansies and serve with grits or crusty bread.
This recipe was inspired by beef stew recipes by Epicurious and Edible Landscape Design