Red-Eye Shoulder Stew
Red-eye is one of those things that the folks in the South, particularly, can’t (or don’t) do without for very long. Me? I can usually get by ok without that good ol’ red-eye gravy, but I can tell you this: if you’ve ever had really good red-eye gravy, then eventually you’ll be back for more. It has that magnetic pull to it that you just can’t stay away from it forever. All that’s to say that it was that bacon/coffee mixture that prompted me to start looking for a great stew that could use those same flavors.
So first of all, if you’re not from the South, you probably have no idea what red-eye gravy is. In a nutshell, it’s a pork fat gravy (usually from ham, bacon or sausage) that’s made with very strong coffee. I’ve seen it used a lot of ways, but mostly it’s just served with the ham itself, and it’s great that way. But this time around, I had some beef shoulder, some veggies and I wanted to see if I could make a shoulder stew with coffee that would have some of the great red-eye taste.
That’s pretty much how it came to be, and while it may not be necessary, I made this in a slow cooker, so in the end, it really took very little effort and the taste was extremely good (though I may mess with the spices a bit more next time around). And yes, the coffee definitely comes through.
- 2 1/2 c. beef stock
- 3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp. Djion mustard
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp. oil
- 3 slices bacon, sliced into small pieces
- 2 lb. beef shoulder, trimmed if necessary
- 3/4 c. brewed coffee
- 1 lb. new potatoes, halved
- 1/2 lb. carrots, cut into small pieces
- 1/2 lb. parsnips, cut small pieces
- 1 onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 4 fresh thyme sprigs, plus leaves for garnish
- 1 bay leaf
- Whisk together beef stock, flour, Dijon, a little salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a slow cooker.
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Start by cooking the bacon until it's almost ready, then add the coffee. When that's well combined, add to the slow cook kettle.
- Add a little oil to the pan and season beef shoulder with salt and pepper. Cook, in batches, until browned on all sides. Add that to the stock pot, along with all the stickings you can get from the pan.
- Add potatoes, carrots, parsnips, onion, garlic, thyme, and bay leaf to slow cooker and stir to combine. Cover and cook until beef is tender. This will probably take 4 or more hours on high, more on low settings. Discard thyme sprigs and bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper.