Only 139 Days Until Spring…Stew’s On!!!!

Soups / November 2, 2015

Yes. I know. I skipped it all. The turkey and dressing, the blow-up Santas on the front lawn, the mad dash to return gifts, and the kiss with a stranger on New Year’s Eve. I also realize, now that it is November 2nd, that I will most likely hear Jingle Bell Rock 125 times before the season is over. I’m braced for it.

Sure, I love the holidays, but why does it have to happen during the cold months? Shivering is just not any fun, and the lyrics, “The Horse Knows the Way, To Carry the Sleigh…” strikes a chord of misery for me. Perhaps that’s why for Halloween — the first night of the year when you truly realize SUMMER. IS. OVER. — I decided to feature a nice HOT bowl of stew.

This recipe came together so well, and was so perfectly seasoned and balanced, it almost made me smile as I navigated the neighborhood for candy while wearing long johns. Given that, I will show you step by step, how to make my delicious Moroccan Beef Stew over Saffron Rice for yourself. Grab a spoon and start counting with me!!!

Cooking is simply a set of perfected techniques, applied to various elements, all strung together to make a recipe sing. So, with that said, I will offer a few secrets to success. First, make sure your meat is room temperature when you start, and your pan should be remarkably hot before you add the oil and the meat. I bought good stew meat, nice and lean, but don’t worry if you have tough cuts you want to use. The slow braising is designed by nature to make your meat nice and tender. Here you see that I tossed the meat in flour and salt and pepper before searing in a medium-hot Dutch oven. Only a few minutes on each side does the trick. Then you remove the meat and set aside while you create the next bit of magic for your stew.
By having the stock ready in another pan, I can add the hot liquid to the pan I seared the meat in, a little at a time. Here you see I added about 1 cup of the stock, and then scraped up all those yummy bits of seared meat into the liquid. It is the base of our stew.
Now, add the onion, garlic and mushrooms and let them cook until the onions are translucent which is only about 4 minutes. Put the meat back in the pot, add the other 3 cups of stock, add the Moroccan seasoning, and you’re ready to cover the pot and put in a 325 degree F oven to braise for 1 hour and forty minutes. When you take it out, you can see how all the flavors are turning into one, amazing meal, already begging for a spoon.

Yes, I know. It’s hard to talk right now it looks so yummy. But stay with me. It’s almost time for the bowl. What you see here is how I know adding flavors after the meat is soft is the right way to go. This step is added because there’s nothing worse than mushy, colorless veggies in a stew. Why have one part perfect, (the meat,) and another party acting as the sacrificial lamb, (the carrots and potatoes,) all for the sake of efficiency? REMEMBER. Techniques, when perfected, create great cooking.

The addition of Kalamata olives offer texture, color and the right umami saltiness. Golden raisins create the very light hint of sweetness you crave. And it all slowly simmers for about 20-25 minutes until the carrots are tender.

If you like rice, which I do, make a batch of Spanish rice; saffron rice like I did, to put on the bottom of the bowl before topping with the stew. It is a really nice textural backdrop and adds heartiness. But you’re fine to serve this on its own and well.

Your last step before plating is to add a handful of fresh cilantro an stir. Do not cook the cilantro. Really, you will ruin in. Just let it float there, looking all green and pretty and adorable.


Moroccan Beef Stew with Saffron Rice

Serves 8-10


Ingredients:

2 ½ lbs cubes of good stew meat
7 oz sliced baby bella mushrooms
1 ½ C pitted Kalamata olives
1/3 C golden raisins
3 C carrots sliced
4 C Yukon gold potatoes cubed
3 Knorr beef bouillon cubes
4 C boiling water
3 T olive oil
1 t salt, ½ t pepper
3 T all-purpose flour
4 t good dried Moroccan spices medley (I used Fresh Market Moroccan spice and marinade
½ medium to small white, sweet onion diced small
4 large cloves garlic, chopped finely
Handful fresh, chopped cilantro
4 C Yellow saffron rice


Method:

  • In a large saucepan, boil 4 C of water. Add the 3 beef bouillon cubes and remove from heat. Stir to combine.
  • Unwrap the room temperature meat and put in large bowl. Add the 3 T flour and the salt and pepper and toss coat to on all sides. Preheat a large Dutch oven on medium high, then add the olive oil, and brown the meat in two batches. Do not crowd the meat. Sear only, about 3 minutes on each side until caramelized. Remove and set aside,
    Remove pan from heat.
  • Add about 2 cup of the hot beef bouillon liquid to the pan and deglaze the bottom, working to scrape up all the browned bits of meat. Turn the heat on to medium and add the onion, garlic and mushrooms. Let come to a boil and cook for about 3-4 minutes, until the onions are soft. Put the rest of the bouillon in the pan, and add the meat back in with the juices, and add the 4 teaspoons spice mix. Stir and then cover the pot and put in the oven at 325 degrees F. Let the meat braise for 1 hour and 40 minutes.
  • Remove Dutch oven from oven, and stir in the Kalamata olives, the raisins, the carrots and the potatoes. Cover the pan with the lid on the pan leaving an opening for the steam and let cook on a low heat (as long as there is some bubbling you’re good!) for about 20 minutes or until the carrots are soft but NOT mushy.
  • At this stage, you can remove and either store for the next day or leave on stove for an hour or so and then reheat when you’re ready to serve. When ready to serve, stir in the fresh cilantro.
  • If desired, cook 4 C of yellow Spanish rice with saffron and have ready at the same time.
  • To serve, put ½ C of the rice on the bottom of a bowl, cover with about a cup of the stew.


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