Friday, March 27, 2009

Beef Stew with Olives and Onions

The first day of spring was a week ago. Yet when I look outside, despite the blossoms on my cherry tree, it looks like it's still winter. Just a bit too rainy and dreary for my taste (and I usually really enjoy the rain).

I thought a nice stew might be just the ticket. There is just something I find quite soul-satisfying about a big bowl of stew.

I've got a few ingredients left over from my brisket testing (beef stock, red wine and sun-dried tomatoes). I took a look in my freezer, fridge and pantry and found a few ingredients to build the rest of my stew.

Here's the ingredients

1 pound stew meat
1/2 cup flour seasoned with 1 Tbls minced fresh rosemary, salt and pepper

4 clove garlic, minced

2 cup red wine
2 cup beef stock
1 can diced tomatoes

1 Tbls fresh rosemary, minced
1/2 bag frozen pearl onions, thawed

3/4 cup kalamata olives

1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, sliced

2 Tbls capers
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

I started by preheating the oven to 325 degrees. In a Ziploc bag I combined my flour with the seasonings, then added my stew meat, giving it a good shake to coat the meat completely.

I heated some olive oil in my fancy new dutch oven, then added the flour-coated stew beef. I cooked this, stirring occasionally until the beef was browned on all sides.

I added the minced garlic and let it saute for a few seconds before adding the rest of my ingredients (except for the parsley). I did not add any salt at this point because the stew contains a lot of really salty ingredients and I wasn't sure how much the broth would reduce (you can always add salt, but you can't take it away). I brought the liquid to a simmer, put the lid on the dutch oven and popped the pan into the oven to braise. After two hours I took the pan out of the oven.

Then I stirred in the fresh parsley and dished it up.

To accompany the stew I made a salad that features one of the quintessential spring ingredients, strawberries. Which is kind of ironic since my stew is a "why won't spring get here meal". I created this salad for a client last week and it looked very tasty. I wanted to add nuts to her salad but one of the family members has a nut allergy (but I don't, so let's get nuts).

Here's the ingredients

2 Tbls pear-infused vinegar (I made this at Christmas time, sherry vinegar would be a good replacement)
2 Tbls olive oil

salt and pepper

sugar or honey to taste

strawberries, quartered or sliced

3 Tbls pecans, toasted

2 ounce goat cheese

I whisked together the vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper in a bowl. Tasted it for seasoning and added a pinch of sugar. I added the mache and tossed it to coat. I put this on the plate and topped it with the strawberries, pecans and goat cheese.

Pretty, no?

Alongside, I toasted up some sourdough bread which had been seasoned with olive oil, sea salt and pepper.

The stew didn't thicken up quite as much as I expected it to. I should have added a bit of flour when I added the garlic to the pan. However, the flavors were really nice. The strawberry salad was wonderful. Really good. Plus, the strawberries in the salad helped to remind me that spring weather will get here ... eventually.

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