Day 3 – Slow-Cooked Catalan Beef Stew
How many ways can you make a beef casserole? When I think of the flavour combinations of hearty winter stews, my thoughts invariably begin with beef and those cheaper cuts of the beast that respond so well to slow-cooked love. My brain tumbles through the many combinations of flavours that could go with it. Will I head to the south of France today (olives, tomatoes, basil) or to the north (red wine, thyme, mushrooms)? Then there’s south-east asian influences – chilli, coriander, coconut, lemongrass.
The flavours you would normally pair with beef are mostly well-known and understood on our palates, but what happens when we venture into the unknown? What happens when you combine beef with paprika, red wine, oranges and dark chocolate?
Well, you could do far worse than rely on the knowledge of good Spanish cooks. This northern provincial dish proves that far from being unhelpful bed-fellows, dark chocolate, orange and beef make for an amazing combination, with no one flavour dominating the other. It’s a really great departure from the usual. Don’t be afraid to try it.
Serves 4 to 6
2 tbsp olive oil; 1 kg chuck steak or gravy beef, cut into 4-5cm chunks; 2 tbsp plain flour; sea salt and freshly ground black pepper; 1 onion, diced; 2 large carrots, diced; 2 stalks celery, diced; 2 cloves garlic, finely diced; 1 x 400g tin whole peeled tomatoes; 2 or 3 large strips of orange rind, pith removed; juice of one large orange; 1 cup dry red wine; 1 litre beef stock; 2 tsp smoked paprika; 2 heaped tbsp baking cocoa
Heat oil in a large heavy-based fry-pan over medium heat. Place meat in a plastic bag with flour, salt and pepper and shake to coat the meat. Brown, in batches if necessary, for a few minutes each side then place the meat in a slow cooker.
Return the fry pan to the heat and add onion, carrot, celery and garlic. Saute for five minutes until vegetables are well coated and starting to soften. Add to the meat in slow cooker. Add tomatoes, orange rind and juice to the slow cooker.
Return fry-pan to the heat and add red wine. While it is bubbling up, scrape the bottom of the pan to dislodge the crusted on bits. When wine is reduced by half, add stock, paprika and cocoa and stir until it comes to the boil. Pour into slow cooker.
Cook on LOW for 7-8 hours or HIGH for 4-5 hours.
If you don’t have a slow-cooker: Pre-heat oven to 160°C. Proceed with recipe as above, but place the meat and vegetables in a large casserole dish. Cover with a couple of sheets of foil or a tightly fitting lid and bake for 3 hours.
Serve with steamed potatoes and green vegetables.
$15.75 for four people