At the first hint of the unclement weather I start cooking comforting dishes, soups and stews galore. One of our family favourites is the beef stew (my guys are not keen on dumplings, so this stew doesn't have any) so thick that a spoon can be left standing once inserted in the middle of the bowl. I have been playing with adding this ingredient or that, changing some of the flavours, making it spicier or sweeter. Yesterday I felt like adding a bit of chocolate to my stew.
For 4-5 servings:
about 400g brasing beef, cut in chunks
2 medium potatoes
1 red onion
1 sweet potato
1 swede or yellow turnip
2 medium tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste or ketchup
20g chocolate with sea salt or chilli
2 tbsp of wild herbs mix
1 tbsp wholemeal seed & grain bread flour
for coating the beef
a handful of raisins or sultanas
about 7-8 dried
1/2 bottle of Sangiovese Toscana or any other robust red wine
On a clean board or working surface, coat the beef with the wholemeal seed & grain bread flour and wild herb rub.
the oil in the deep frying pan, add the beef, cook it until it's well browned on
all sides. Remove the beef and put it in the big pan (I used the HomeCooker, in which you can cook any stew on low for hours, or use a slowcooker).
Chop the onion
and fry until translucent. Add to the pan with the beef. Chop the carrots and
fry for about 5 minutes.
Add the chopped parsnips, swede, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, sultanas and apricots
to the pan, pour water and wine. Beef and vegetables should be always covered by the
water, so keep checking the level and add more if necessary. Add the chocolate and tomato paste too.
Bring the water/wine
to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer on very low for a couple of hours.
Add the potatoes cut into bigger chunks and keep cooking for another hour on low.
Don't worry about the stew being sweet, the sea salt chocolate as well as chopped apricots and raisins add a touch of sweetness, but mostly give an unusual depth of flavours when combined with the fruity tones of tannic Sangiovese.
And by all means, while you are cooking, try the wine first, you don't want your stew to be spoilt by the corked wine. Cin-cin!