Recipe: Coffee and Chocolate Beef Stew & A Lesson on Canola Versus Olive Oil

Today’s Lesson: When to Use Olive Oil Versus Canola Oil

Olive Oil:

– contains antioxidants, polyphenols and omega-3 fatty acids — promotes cardiovascular health and cognitive function as well as boots your immune system

– can even help prevent or reverse type 2 diabetes, since it helps your body produce adiponectin, a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar levels

– has anti-inflammatory properties, good for people with arthritis and osteoporosis.

Canola Oil:

– low in saturated fats(read the label to check though)

– high in the omega-3 fatty acids and other monounsaturated fats good for your heart

When to use Canola Oil:

While olive oil has more nutrients for you, the drawbacks of using olive oil is, for one, that it has an olive flavor that can present itself in your food, which is fine for a lot of savory meals but may or may not be desired for baked goods.  Secondly, olive oil is more expensive than canola oil.  You also may choose to use canola oil when sauteing, since it has a higher smoke point, meaning you can make your pan even hotter without worrying about the oil smoking and breaking down (broken oil causes food to stick, tastes bad, and may also lead to carcinogenic byproducts..Yikes.)

On to the main event.

My stews are kind of like… fridge dumps. To put it crudely 🙂 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I usually pick about twenty million things knowing that the flavors will meld together — i.e chocolate shavings on top of carrots? Madness? The reason for using such “secret ingredients”, like coffee and chocolate, is to add depth and complexity to the stew’s taste — think of the additional  bitter, earthy flavors. Neither ingredient is pronounced in the final result, for all of you dirty skeptics 😉  But don’t take my word for it. Try it out, and feel free to play with the variables along the way.

P.S. You can eat this straight, with potatoes, ORRRRR on top of a buttered, lightly toasted bun, like a steak sloppy joe (DERISHOUS). I also like melting a little bit of butter and drizzling it over  the steak pieces but this may be an acquired taste? :shrug: Don’t knock it till you try it.

If this stew doesn’t float your boat, here’s yet another beef stew recipe. They make great leftovers, as they age nicely over time. Just like my grandma, the coolest person I know ❤

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Chocolate and Coffee Beef Stew
2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into bite-sized pieces
Salt and pepper for seasoning
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup canola oil (apply as needed)
1 large onion, sliced
1 tablespoon crushed garlic
1 cup sliced carrots (I used baby carrots)
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 (14.5-ounce) cup tomato sauce (good quality is ideal)
3 tablespoons finely grated bittersweet chocolate
2 tablespoons barbeque sauce (I used Jack Daniel’s)
2 tablespoons maple syrup (for added sweetness)
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp paprika
2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1 (14-ounce) can low-sodium beef broth (chicken also acceptable)
1 cup coffee, brewed
Splash of lemon juice

Directions
In a large bowl combine beef stew meat, salt, pepper and flour. Toss until beef is well coated.

Heat the canola in a large casserole pot over high heat. Add seasoned beef in batches and sear on all sides until brown and caramelized. Remove to a plate and set aside.

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Add more oil and saute onions until slightly caramelized and tender; add garlic and let cook 30 seconds.  Deglaze the pan with broth. Add carrots, peas, and browned beef back into the pot.

Add spices and pour in broth and coffee. Cover and cook on HIGH setting for 4 to 6 hours.  Towards the end, add a splash of lemon juice to brighten up the stew. ** Season with salt and pepper and additional spices  as you taste it throughout the process.

After I finished, I deglazed my pan by pouring a cold liquid (i.e broth or wine) into the casserole pot while it was hot and swirling it around.

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This took off most of the burnt, caked on solids that would’ve just been a pain to scrub off.

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