The dearly beloved has just phoned to let you know that the boss is coming to supper, so the meal needs to be impressive. You open the fridge and all you have is some stewing beef, a few vegetables and rice. Sound familiar?
Don’t panic. Your humble blogger has for you, a recipe to turn an everyday stew into something ‘stew-pendous’. I’m sorry – I couldn’t resist. But seriously, the sensationally rich flavours in this dish will bring out the smiles and ensure a successful supper with the boss and a substantial increase for the spouse. I’m indebted to Mrs Chips for this one as she has adapted it from some Moroccan recipes we’ve collected over time.
Now you’ll see we used a tagine this time – but you can use any pot really – even the good old South African Potjie. On a bed of rice, with salad, or steamed vegetables, it will comfortably serve 4 to 6 people. It takes about 3 ½ hours and is tres facile or helluva easy (that’s your actual English, right there).
We’re essentially making a stew – but with some intense exotic spices. Beef is our choice of meat here but if you still have some game left over from hunting season you can use that as well; but bear in mind the changes in cooking time for various meat types.
- 600 – 700g of stewing beef, with the sinew etc removed.
- 50 to 60 ml of garlic infused avocado oil. You can use ordinary cooking oil –but the avo oil gives more flavour.
- 1 large onion – finely chopped
- 3 large cloves garlic – finely chopped
- 1 handful of fresh green beans trimmed of tips
- 6 baby carrots cut lengthwise into quarters
- 350g of sweet (preferably cherry) tomatoes, peeled and chopped – or 1 tin chopped tomatoes
- 150ml sweet red wine or full cream sherry
- 650ml veg stock
- 4 baby potatoes diced small (marble size)
- 2 tablespoons flaked roasted almonds
A fistful of chopped fresh coriander
Replace the potatoes with a tin of chickpeas – drained
100g chopped dried fruit – preferably prunes but peaches or apricots are ok.
- 1 teaspoon Maldon salt – ok, any salt will do
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 heaped tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground aniseed
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ¼ teaspoon galangal powder – if you can’t get galangal – use a bit more ginger
- 3 or 4 cloves ground
- 2 or 3 cardamom pods crushed and ground
- 1 or 2 dried chillies – 1 for medium heat, 2 for quite hot
Salad– we used:
- Grated carrot
- Grated fresh raw beetroot
- Baby corn
- Bean sprouts
- Tender-stem broccoli – raw
- Avocado pear
- Cherry tomatoes
- Spring/salad onion
Basmati or a nice wild rice would be ideal – but common old rice will also do.
- To mix the rub – ensure all spices are well ground up and mixed together in a bowl.
- After removing all sinews from the stewing steak, cut up into roughly 2 cm cubes.
- Thoroughly massage the rub into the meat in the bowl, cover and leave in the fridge for a couple of hours. Ideally overnight but hey, the boss is coming over, right?
- When the meat is ready add the oil to the pot or tagine over a medium heat.
- Add the meat and fry it – stirring constantly for about 4 minutes.
- Add the chopped onions and fry for 5 minutes
- Add the tomatoes (and if you want chickpeas – now’s the time)
- Add about 500ml of the stock to the pot.
- When it starts to boil – turn your heat down to a gentle simmer, cover with a lid and cook for 1.5 hours – stirring every 15 minutes.
- After 1.5 hours, add the potatoes, carrots, beans and the optional dried fruit.
- Add the rest of the stock and the wine. Replace the lid and simmer slowly for another 1.5 hours – keep stirring every 15 to 20 minutes. If it starts looking a bit dry, just add water (about half a cup at a time).
- Prepare the rice and salad.
- After the third hour, remove the lid and taste. The meat ought to be nice and tender and flaky. There should still be some sauce – but if it is too liquid, simply simmer with the lid off for a few minutes.
- Serve with your choice of red wine.
- About half way, raise the subject of your spouses sorely needed raise. Make sure the tape recorder is running.