So, look, I know Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid is super cute, and it's very sweet and silly, and everyone loves it, but if I'm going to have to pick a dragon I'd really have to go with Red-Queen Dragon from Restaurant to Another World. I mean, she'd a giant cool dragon with a literal floating island filled with treasure, and when she takes her human form she is GORGEOUS. The envy is real. The only problem I have is with her taste in food. She has a portal to a magic restaurant that makes amazing food and she chooses to eat....BEEF STEW???
Let's just say that it's not my favorite food. I'm not overly inspired by it, and the last time I made beef stew, commentors went WILD, and not in a good way. When I checked the comments at work the next day, I was so upset about what everyone had said that it was making me irratable with my students. They could tell I was upset about something, so they pestered me about it and, in order to reassure my kids that I wasn't mad at them, I had to explain the intricacies of making beef stew, posting about it on the internet, and dealing with the backlash because SOMEHOW my beef stew resembled a curry more than a stew, despite the lack of curry anywhere in this dish. Yes, I'm still #salty about that post. Funnily enough, that recipe was still the best stew I've ever made, too.
So, when I saw that this recipe featured in the first episode of what looks like a really cool show, I was hesitant to recreate it. What really piqued my interest (besides the awesome dragon lady) was the way this dish was put together. Normally, when you make a stew, you brown the beef, saute aromatics, add in the liquids, and let it simmer for 3 hours so the meat can get tender and the stew has a chance to take on a more nuanced flavor. You add in the vegetables around an hour prior to cooking completion, so that they have a chance to soak up some of the sauce and get nice and soft. However, in this dish, you can see that the vegetables weren't simmered with the beef at all. They're much too clean and perfect looking. What really surprised me, though, was how beautiful and clear the sauce was. I'm used to having onions and garlic and herbs floating around in the gravy, not to mention the other vegetables, so I was confused with how I could make a dish that was infused with all the flavors of the aromatics without muddling the sauce, so that the final presentation was crisp and beautiful.
My solution was to cook the stew mostly as normal, sans the vegetables, which I boiled seperately and added to the final presentation. This allowed the green and orange of the broccoli and the carrots to really shine, adding to the wonderful color of the dish. In order to keep the sauce clear and pretty, I substituted dried thyme with fresh, so that I could fish it out more easily. I chopped the onion in large chunks, when I would normally do bite-sized pieces, and I left the garlic whole. This allowed me to more easily remove these pieces from the end result. The sauce would be perfectly flavored, but would still be clean.
Lastly, I made sure to brown the meat before anything else. I didn't do this the last time I made stew (and got #roasted for not doing it), but did it this time for two reasons. 1) I didn't want people to get mad at me again and 2) Since this is sort of a deconstructed beef stew, I wanted the flavor of the meat to really be on point. Browning it not only added to the flavor and texture of the beef, but it contributed greatly to the stew base itself, further amplifying those flavors.
I think these changes, compared to my last beef stew recipe, really made all the difference! I was really pleased with how this turned out- I think it was almost the perfect copy of what you see in the anime, both in looks and taste. Is this stew fit for a dragon? Absolutely! Even better, this makes a TON of food, and the leftovers seriously only get better.
Watch the video below for more details on how to make your own meal, fit for a dragon!
Ingredients for Dragon's Stew:
Adapted from here.
To Make Dragon's Stew:
1. Prep veggies. Cut potatoes in half, cut carrots on an angle into 2 inch pieces, cut broccoli free of the stem into pieces, half onion and peel it. Peel garlic, if necessary. Set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 325 F.
3. Heat up a large pan or dutch oven (dish must be stove and oven safe) with a little olive oil. Salt and pepper both sides of stew meat, and, when the oil is ready, start cooking in batches. Don't crowd the pan, or it will start stewing instead of browning. Go about 6-8 pieces at a time, adding more oil in between batches. As it finishes, set aside on a plate.
4. When the beef is done cooking, add in the onion and garlic, and let soften a few minutes. Add in the balsamic vinegar, and deglaze the pan. Rub up any blackened bits left behind by the beef, so that it becomes a part of the sauce.
5. When suitably deglazed, add in the tomato paste and stir through. Add the beef + juices back in, and toss with the flour. Let that cook 1-2 minutes, then add in wine, water, beef broth, sugar, thyme, bay leaf, and stir together. Bring to a boil, and then pop a lid on top, and stick into the pre-heated oven for three hours.
6. About 1/2 hour away from the stew being done, bring a pot of water to boil. Add in the cut broccoli and cook about 2 minutes, or until bright green and tender. Immediately strain out and put in an ice bath to maintain that pretty green color.
7. Bring back to a boil and pop in the carrot and potatos. Cook both until easily pierced with a knife or fork. For carrots, this will take about 8 minutes. The potatoes will take longer, especially since they're in big chunks, probably 15-20 minutes. Remove both as they finish cooking and set aside.
8. After three hours, remove stew from the oven. Remove the thyme, bay leaf, garlic, and onion slices.
9. Serve up! Dish up the meat first, then add the stew base to the dish. Carefully garnish with potato, broccoli, and then carrot. And now it's done!