A Meal Fit for a Knight Valiant: Bitterroot Beef Stew and Sweet Rolls
Hello! And welcome to another episode of Cooking with Kalo! Today we will be making a special dish from the heart of the Dawnlands, bitterroot beef stew. This meal is a mainstay of Helian cuisine, common throughout every county of Helios.
But before we dig in, let's take a moment to talk about our sponsor...
- 1/2 tsp (4 g) Ground Coffee
- 1/2 tsp (4 g) Yerba Mate
- 1 Star Anise
- 4 fl oz (120 ml) Hot Water
- 1 tsp (2.5 ml) Salt
- 1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) Onion Powder
- 1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) Black Pepper
- 4 fl oz (120 ml) Bitterroot Tea
- 1 clove Minced Garlic
- 1 tsp (2.5 ml) Lemon Juice
- 1 tsp (2.5 ml) Mustard
- 1 tsp (2.5 ml) Honey
- 2 tbsp (30 ml) Worcestershire Sauce
- 2 tbsp (30 ml) Red Wine
- 2 tbsp (30 ml) Olive Oil
- 1 lb (0.5 kg) Chuck Beef Steak
- 2 Carrots
- 4 Potatoes
- 3 Chives
- 4 stalks Celary
- 1 Yellow Onion
- 2 tbsp Butter
- 1.5 tbsp (12 g) Flour
- 3 oz (90 g) Tomato Paste
- 3 cups (700 ml) Beef Broth
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) Red Wine
- 2 tbsp (30 ml) Worcestershire Sauce
- 4 oz (120 ml) Bitterroot Tea
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) Milk
- 1/2 cup (225 g) Sugar
- 1.5 tsp (8.5 g) Salt
- 1/4 cup (55 g) Butter, melted
- 5 tsp (14 g) Yeast
- 2 Eggs, beaten
- 4.5 cups (540 g) All-Purpose Flour
- More butter to coat surfaces
- Even more butter to melt and coat the rolls
- I'm not kidding, this uses a lot of butter.
- Jam or honey to accompany
- Not to be discussed in this post. Check the brewing laws in your jurisdiction
- Or just do what I did and buy some from the nearby liquor store
- 12" Cast Iron Skillet, or any skillet you have
- Instant Pot, or a large pot over the stovetop
- Small cooking pot
- Cutting Board and Knives
- Measuring Cups
- Small bowls for pre-measured ingredients
- Large Bowl
- Mixing Spoon
- Large Baking Pan
- Begin brewing the Bitterroot Tea by steeping the ingredients in hot water (80°C / 175°F) for at least 5 minutes.
- Cube the chuck steak into equal sized 1" (2.5cm) chunks.
- Measure marinade ingredients into small bowls.
- Combine all ingredients in a gallon sized plastic bag, turn several times until the beef is evenly coated, and then let sit overnight in the fridge.
- Cube the potatoes, celery and carrots into roughly 1" (2.5 cm) chunks, coarsely chop the onion, and mince the chives. Measure out the flour.
- Melt butter into the skillet.
- Cook the marinated beef with the marinade, onion, and flour until the beef has seared. It does not need to be cooked all the way through. It may be helpful to cook in 2 batches so the beef sears rather than steams.
- Place the beef aside into the stew pot.
- Cook the potatoes and onions in the sauce still in the skillet until they start to sear, about 5 minutes. Add the chives and cook until aromatic, less than a minute. Then set all the cooked ingredients aside in the stew pot.
- Pour the beef broth, tomato paste, red wine, Bitterroot Tea, and worcestershire sauce into the stew pot. If using an Instant Pot, cook under pressure for at least half an hour. If using a slow cooker or stovetop, cook for at least 4 hours.
- Bring the milk to a boil in the small pot.
- Add the butter, salt and sugar, and then mix until they have melted fully into the milk. Set aside to cool until it is lukewarm.
- Mix together yeast and warm water in a large bowl until fully dissolved.
- Pour the milk mixture into the large bowl, and stir to combine the mixtures.
- Beat the eggs and then stir them into the mixture.
- Add flour into the bowl one cup at a time, mixing as you go. Beat until smooth. More or less flour may be necessary depending on the humidity. The dough should be elastic and slightly stiff but not dry.
- Place the dough onto a floured board and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.
- Butter the inside of a large bowl, then place the dough inside. Turn the dough a few times until it is fully coated in butter. Cover the bowl in a cloth and let rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size, about an hour.
- Butter a large baking pan. Place small balls of dough (about the size of your palm) in the pan, leaving space between them.
- Cover the pan and let the dough rise again until the rolls have doubled in size, another hour. The rolls should be touching.
- Preheat an oven to 350°F (175°C), and then bake the rolls for 20-25 minutes, or until they brown.
- Melt a few tbsp of butter, and then lightly brush the rolls with the melted butter.
- Let the rolls sit for 10 minutes before serving with more butter and your choice of jam or honey.
Serve the sweet rolls and beef stew together. Helian meals are typically served with wheat beer, but other drink options include Culade (a topic for another post, for now just make some of that purple powdered drink) or Bitterroot Tea.
Helios is known for many things: monsters, knights, quality tools, religious fanaticism, erotica. Spices are nowhere on that list. Lack of spices by no means means bland, though, as the flavor of the stew can attest.
What even is a bitterroot, anyways? Bitterroot is a plant native to the forests of Helios which is used to make a coffee like beverage. Obviously, you can't make a bitterroot stew without having any. This is a slight problem considering the plant does not exist.
However, after some testing I have come up with a substitute which I believe mimics the taste of bitterroot. It consists of coffee, yerba mate, and star anise. Coffee was the easiest component: it's bitter, caffeinated, and is already the main source of inspiration for the drink. The next component was trickier. I wanted something that would bring the drink more complex flavor. Candidates included ginger, taro, and tea. I settled on Yerba Mate, a drink popular in South America, due to its bitter, earthy, and grassy flavor. Finally, I added star anise to give the drink a hint of a licorice flavor. You can alternatively use aniseed, fennel, or of course licorice. This is not the dominant aspect of bitterroot's flavor, so test with the amounts until you only get a slight licorice aftertaste.
Once again, I must state that I am running these trials on a limited budget and capability to replicate medieval cooking methods. To make this in the proper Helian way, it would be made in a large pot and cooked over an entire day. This might even be just one phase of a perpetual stew. However, this dish is common enough that there is likely a pot of it or a close variant at any given tavern or waystation you find yourself in. Speaking of variants, there is no one proper way to make a Helian stew. There are as many types of stew in Helios as there are monsters!
This dish is made in large batches and served to entire families, or served throughout the day at taverns/waystations. The stew is typically served in small wooden bowls and eaten with spoons. Warm sweet rolls are usually served in small wicker baskets to accompany the meal, and butter and jam/honey are provided alongside. The jam could be one of any number of fruits, but common jams include strawberry, grape, or blackberry.
By the way, this meal isn't actually fit for a Knight Valiant. Try making a x10 batch and then it can be in consideration.