Fragrant Beef Stew
With buttery fried potatoes
This is a variation of one of my recent posts, Cabbage wrapped minced beef. As it turned out so well, and as I used mince (ground beef) as my wisdom tooth was cutting through, I really wanted to upgrade this to a beef stew instead. So glad I did! What with marinating the stewing beef in lemon juice, slices of garlic and bay leaves for 48 hours the meat was melt-in-the-mouth delicious. OK, very dark when cooked. With a stew I really couldn’t care less how it looks on the plate. It’s the flavour I’m after. And this was a treat. Shame about the photo at left above (natural light was wretched that day). Anyway, I’d planned on serving long grain rice with this until I had my ever so slightly buttery potatoes over the weekend – the idea of the rice quite simply left the apartment. As for the shallots used instead of onions – those were pan-fried in bacon fat leftover from my previous shoot. Almost sinful! They were that good.
For anyone dealing with Hurricane Sandy – stay safe!
Fragrant Beef Stew, with buttery pan-fried potatoes
For the marinade:
- 200g (7.05 oz) x stewing beef, cut into chunks and rinsed (after marinading the fat congeals which is incredibly easy to remove. Because of that I didn’t need to buy extra lean). Shake the container after 24 hours (or less) or tip it upside down to try and get the lemon to react evenly with the beef (I only did this once)
- 1 x lemon, rolled under the weight of your palms before extracting juice, juiced through a sieve to collect any seeds and pith
- 2 – 3 x garlic cloves, shelled, trimmed and sliced lengthways
- 2 x dried bay leaves
For the stew:
- olive oil
- 1 x medium aubergine/eggplant, about 250g (8.81 oz), washed, trimmed, cut in half, then in thirds, then each segment sliced crossways into chunks. Soak in salted water, with a weight on top, for an hour. Rinse thoroughly and excess water removed by squeezing them of excess liquid
- 1 x dried bay leaf, ripped
- 1 x celery stalk, washed, trimmed and cut into small dice
- 200g (7.05 oz) x small round shallots, trimmed, peeled and kept whole
- 2 x salad tomatoes, washed, cut in half and pan-fried separately
- 2 x garlic cloves, peeled, trimmed and minced/crushed
- 1 x heaped dst tomato purée
- ¼ – ¹/3 x tsp cayenne pepper
- ¹/3 – ½ x tsp paprika
- 500ml (1.05 US pt lqd) x water
- 1 x beef or 1½ x vegetable very low salt stock cube (a combination of both is fine) – less if using regular
- 200g (7.05 oz) x carrots, peeled, trimmed and roughly chopped
- 2 x celery stalks, washed, trimmed and roughly chopped
- up to 4 x sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 x pinch freshly grated nutmeg (about the same if using ground), more to personal taste
- ¼ x scant tsp ground cinnamon, less to personal taste
If the stew needs to be thickened:
- 1 x heaped dst plain flour
- about 2 level dst x olive oil
Measurements within brackets above are approximate only.
For the marinade:
- Place all ingredients into a suitable airtight container and marinade for 48 hours, shaking the contents at least once during that time. Afterwards, simply pick off and discard garlic and bay leaves. There’s really no need to rinse the beef, simply shake off any excess lemon juice and get the chunks of beef into the pan.
For the stew:
- After draining and rinsing the aubergine/eggplant chunks squeeze out as much excess water as possible. I did this with my hands rather than using a very clean t-towel. Using a large heavy-based saucepan or pan/skillet put on electric heat No 3 (out of 6). When pan is hot pour in a little oil and add the aubergine. Shake the pan initially, if necessary, to prevent sticking. Continue to cook for 15 minutes stirring through often. Reduce heat to No 1 and stir through every 10 or so minutes. Add a capful more oil halfway through this part of the cooking time, add a splash of water if there are any signs of the aubergine drying out
- Put a large heavy-based saucepan on electric heat No 3 (out of 6). When onions are ready and the pan is hot pour in enough oil to cover its base. Add the bay leaf and allow to infuse for 30 seconds. Add the diced celery. When turning golden reduce heat to No 1. Push the celery to the sides, pour in a glug more oil, if necessary, and add the garlic. Allow a couple of minutes for the garlic to cook. Take off heat and set aside.
- Add the tomatoes to a separate pan with a little oil and a lid. Put on heat No 2 for most of their cooking time. Remove the lid after about 15 minutes and continue to pan-fry until nicely caramelised. When ready to add them to the mince/aubergine mixture pour them into a fine wire metal sieve and using a stainless steel soup ladle rub them through, collecting all of the purée from underneath with a wooden spoon. Discard the remaining pulp.
- Put a large heavy-based saucepan on heat No 3. When hot enough pour in a little oil. Add the marinated stewing beef and allow to settle. I’m finding that with any form of mince/meat here that I have to wait for the meat to ooze out a lot of gunk. That I remove by carefully tilting the pan and mop out with kitchen paper. Then, I have to add a little more oil before the meat will brown. Get the meat as evenly brown/golden as possible. And don’t worry if the meat catches a little, or scorches slightly as it’s all flavour that the stock will grab. Reduce heat to No 1, push meat to the sides, add a glug more oil if necessary and add the tomato purée. Allow at least 5 minutes for its rawness to cook out. Add the lesser amounts of both cayenne and paprika and allow only seconds for those to infuse before pouring in the water and stock cube(s). Add the aubergine and celery mixture. Add the carrots, celery pieces and thyme. This is when the fresh, caramelised tomatoes should be rubbed through a fine wire metal sieve. Add the lesser amounts of freshly ground or grated nutmeg and ground cinnamon. Up the heat to No 4, cover with lid and bring to near boiling point. Reduce heat to No 1 or 2 and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring through occasionally.
- Meanwhile, put a heavy-based pan/skillet on heat No 2 with a little oil (even better with bacon fat) and add the shallots. Plonk on a lid and cook for 15 minutes. Take off lid and continue to pan-fry until nicely caramelised. If not using bacon fat do grab all of the sticky sediment from base of pan with a little of the stock from the stew.
- Remove the carrots, celery pieces and thyme.
- Taste at this point for extra spices, adding more to personal taste. Do so by allowing pinches of the spices to infuse by stirring them through before tasting for any needed extra spice.
- If gravy is to be thickened: put a small saucepan on heat No 1. Add the flour and olive oil and stir through. Allow at least 5 minutes for the flour to cook out. When any bubbling occurs take off heat to prevent the flour from turning brown (if that happens start again). When cooked out add a soup ladleful of the stock from the stew and stir continuously to achieve an emulsion. Pour some of this slowly into the stew and continue to stir through to avoid any lumps occurring. Add more of the emulsion if necessary.
For the potatoes:
- about 200g (7.05 oz) x new potatoes per person (I’m using Maris Peer), scrubbed and par-boiled
- olive oil, for the potatoes
- butter, for the potatoes
- Keep them in their skins and place in a saucepan with enough lightly salted cold water to cover and place on a lid. Put on electric heat No 4 (out of 6) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to No 2 and simmer for 4 – 6 minutes, depending on their size (cook for longer if using larger potatoes). They should just about pierce if a fork is lightly pushed into them. Drain, allow steam to evaporate and when cool enough to handle peel off any knobbly bits. Cut into slices or discs, put a heavy-based pan on heat No 3. When pan is hot add a little olive oil, place in the potatoes and up the heat to No 4 for a couple of minutes. Reduce heat again to No 3. Grab them underneath with a fish slice to prevent them from sticking. Turn them over when nicely golden. Reduce heat to No 2 and add a small knob of butter. Continue to cook whilst preparing the stew. If they’re ready before the stew take off heat and cover with a lid.
All photographs within Feed the Piglet:
All rights reserved – Copyright © Johnny H Hepburn
This Cajun Style Red Kidney Beans is fast becoming one of my favourite vegan suitable recipes. It’s earthy, juicy, sweetish but not overly so with a good range of flavours emanating from the spices and herbs. Nothing too overwhelming but well balanced.
Have to say that I would love to be using fresh parsley and thyme. Until my pots on the inside of my south-facing window start growing I’ll have to use dried. Okay, I can buy fresh thyme, which I will do the next time. Incidentally, of all of the dried herbs oregano apparently tastes almost the same as fresh. Not so with parsley and thyme as the former tends to be a tad sour and the latter a bit too woody for my palate. Which is why I use less of both. The following paragraph was written for the original post.
Previously on Kitschnflavours: This is the recipe I was shopping for when I spied cauliflower at half price – hence my last post. Loosely based on this recipe I’ve added both fresh caramelised tomatoes and purée, partly as I had them to hand and wanted to use them up. I’ve also added several dried herbs and some spice to give this a little more ooomph. It may not be the most photogenic on the plate to photograph. Who cares! Especially with the depth of flavour in this. Next time I’m going with a green jalapeño chilli, cutting off its tip, then slicing thinly until a small aperture is visible which allows the heat to escape. And of course this is both vegetarian and vegan suitable. I’d also like to try this with what we call special fried rice, which is normally egg fried rice with shrimp, pork, chicken and some vegetables seasoned with soy sauce and sesame oil that is served in Chinese restaurants and takeaways. Shame I can’t cook with a wok on electric. Or can I?
Cajun Style Red Kidney Beans
- olive oil
- 200g (7.05 oz) x onions, peeled and chopped
- 1 x dried bay leaf, ripped
- 1 – 2 x celery stalks/ribs, washed and cut into small dice
- 1 x medium green jalapeño chilli, washed, tip cut off, then slice carefully and thinly until a small aperture is visible
- 2 – 3 x garlic cloves, peeled and crushed or finely chopped
- 1 x medium aubergine (eggplant), washed, halved and cut into rough slices, immerse them in cold water with a good helping of salt, submerge them by using a weight on top, leave for an hour, drain and refresh with cold water several times and squeeze out excess water – I just use my hands to squeeze out the water
- 1 – 2 x green pepper(s)/capsicum, washed, chargrilled under a hot grill or broiler until the skin is completely blackened, allow to cool before removing the skin, stem and seeds, then chop into smallish dice
- 1 – 2 x heaped tablespoons tomato purée, add 1 tablespoon and allow to infuse into the mixture before adding more (I used 1½)
- 1 x 400g or 240g drained weight (14.10 or 8.46 oz drained) can red kidney beans, thoroughly rinsed
- 1 x beef/beefsteak tomato, about 200g (7.05 oz) or more, washed and cut into quarters OR 5 x salad tomatoes, about 340g, washed and sliced in half
- 1/2 x teaspoon dried parsley OR 1/2 x tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
- 1 x teaspoon dried oregano
- up to 1/2 x teaspoon dried thyme OR 1 x large sprig fresh thyme
- 1/2 x teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 x teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 x teaspoon cumin seeds, dry roasted and ground
- 2 x teaspoons coriander seeds, dry roasted and ground
- up to 200ml (0.42 US pt lqd) x water, use less and add more to gain the right consistency
Measurements within brackets above are approximate only.
- Put a large heavy-based saucepan on electric heat No 3 (out of 6), pour in enough oil to coat its base, add the onions, jalapeño chilli and the bay leaf. When onions are beginning to soften I have to reduce heat to No 2. In the meantime prep the celery and add to the onions. Stir through often. When they start to turn pale gold in colour I prep the garlic and reduce the heat to No 1. Onions and celery are pushed to the sides, another glug of oil is added if necessary, then garlic is added where there is space. Several minutes should be long enough to cook out the rawness. Stir everything through and push the mixture to the sides and add the tomato purée and take off heat to prevent scorching as it can cause bitterness. Allow enough time to cook out the rawness of the purée – at least 5 minutes.
- Add the kidney beans after stirring the tomato purée and, again, pushing all to the sides. Put back on low heat for now.
- After draining and rinsing the aubergine pieces squeeze out as much excess water as possible. I did this with my hands rather than using a very clean t-towel (one that has been boiled). Using a large heavy-based saucepan or pan/skillet put on heat No 3. When pan is hot add a little oil and add the aubergine. Shake the pan vigorously, if necessary, to prevent sticking. Continue to cook until nicely golden all over, reducing heat when necessary to No 1. They can take up to an hour to get them absolutely soft to the palette. And there shouldn’t be any crunch to them at all.
- In the meantime place the tomatoes in a heavy-based pan/skillet with a little oil. Allow about 20 minutes on heat No 2 for them to caramelise sufficiently. When nice and gooey, and the tomato purée has had long enough to cook, carefully place them in a fine wire metal sieve over the saucepan and rub through with the back of a stainless steel soup ladle (this is much quicker than using a wooden spoon). Discard the pulp left in the sieve. Remember to grab all of the purée from underneath the sieve. And, with a little water add that to their pan to grab any sticky sediment. Pour this into the kidney bean mixture and stir through. Add the pan-fried aubergine as well.
- As everything is cooking preheat grill or broiler to moderate heat and place the peppers/capsicum underneath. Allow enough time to blacken completely then turn them over and blacken on all sides. Allow to cool before gently removing the stem. Cut the pepper open with a knife or scissors, remove and discard seeds and pour any juice into the pan with the kidney beans. Remove the blistered and blackened skins off the peppers and discard those. Slice the pepper into strips, then into smallish cubes. Add them to the kidney bean mixture.
- Sprinkle over the herbs, paprika and cayenne pepper. If the mixture is too dry add a splash or two of cold water and stir through. This should be a dryish dish but not completely dry.
- In the meantime dry roast the cumin and coriander seeds in a dry pan over heat No 1 for up to 10 minutes. When cool enough grind them to a powder. Sprinkle into the saucepan and stir through.
Caramelising the quartered beef tomato.
Rubbing the soft caramelised tomato quarters through a fine wire metal sieve.
After rubbing through the caramelised tomato quarters some of the dried herbs and the smoked paprika were added to the pan-fried aubergine/eggplant.
Adding the tomato purée or paste with the crushed garlic to the caramelised onions. Take off heat if pan is too hot as both can scorch.
Adding the kidney beans and caramelised onions to the aubergine.
Not perhaps the prettiest on the plate! However, the flavour of chargrilled or blackened green pepper/capsicum is incredible.
When the pepper is cool enough to handle gently pull out the stem. Then, either slice open with a knife or cut it open with scissors as I did. Remove any seeds and discard. Add any internal juices to the stew. After that peel off the charred skin, which is messy. It helps to lick your fingers! Or, at least that seems to help me.
Slicing the skinned and deseeded pepper into strips. Don’t worry too much about the discolouration as the flavour is superb.
And then cutting the strips into smallish cubes. No need to be too precise as the pepper is misshapen already.
Adding the roughly cubed pepper to the stew. Just LOVE those colours!
Dry roasting the cumin and coriander seeds over low heat.
Adding the ground, or in my case pulverised, cumin and coriander seeds. As it’s visible in the photo I have problems with my hands so I can never grind them by hand until absolutely smooth, like a powder. Really must buy a coffee grinder!
All photographs within (Todas las fotografías dentro de) Feed the Piglet:
All rights reserved (© Todos los derechos reservados) – Copyright © Johnny H Hepburn