Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Simple Weeknight Stew

I've noticed as of late, and completely unintentionally, the majority of my posts have taken a dessert spin.  I personally find this interesting because I would place myself as a savory Chef first and a baker second.  Regardless, it's prompted me to want to share a few of my savory creations with you all.

Here in New England, we're at that time of year where the weather shifts on a daily basis from sweatshirts and extra blankets to borderline beach weather and while I enjoy the final warm, sunny days of the year, I'm ready for those leaves to start turning.  If you've read any of my more recent posts, it's pretty evident that I love fall.  I think it's just such a fabulous time of year that opens up so many amazing flavors and this beef stew is no exception.  Spun from a traditional South African Oxtail Potjie recipe [potjies are an SA version of a stew, cooked over an open fire in a cauldron-like pot], it's a harmonious blend of familiar flavors and a few unusual tweaks that give some unexpected undertones.  If you're feeling brave and have it available, I'd recommend trying it with oxtail - the bone-in meat adds a fantastic layer of depth and richness to the stew.

South African Inspired Beef Stew

1 lb top round beef, cubed (or 2 lbs bone-in oxtail, lamb or short rib)
2 strips of bacon, diced
1 large sweet potato, diced
1/2 white onion, diced
3 cloves of crushed garlic, finely chopped
2 small roma tomatoes, diced
2 ribs of celery, diced
1/4 cup of corn starch
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
4 cups beef stock
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
7-8 grinds of freshly cracked pepper
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons mild curry powder
1 teaspoon coriander

- In a large skillet, heat your olive oil
- Lightly coat your meat in the flour and brown the exterior in your skillet (your not trying to cook the meat through, just caramelize the exterior)
- In a large crockpot, layer your sweet potato, onion, garlic, tomatoes, celery and spices
- Once browned, add the meat on top of your vegetables in the crockpot
- Add beef stock, red wine and sherry vinegar
- Simmer on high for 6 hours, stirring occasionally
- If you used a bone-in meat, use a slotted spoon to remove the bones prior to serving

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