Friday, February 14, 2014

Mediterranean Beef Stew by Tom

"From Uninspired to Pretty Good!"
Mediterranean Beef Stew by Tom

While Barbara painted it was my turn to create dinner.  Knowing that I had dinner meetings a couple of days later in the week, she asked that I make something that would provide leftover meals for her. Usually not a challenging request, but this time I struggled a bit.  We had just had lamb, so that was out.  Chicken was to be cooked later in the week, so also out.  That pretty much left me with either beef, pork or seafood.  Checking our cookbooks, nothing was appealing to me until I got to this recipe from "Simply Stews".

What appealed to me was that it looked different than traditional beef stews, which I like by the way.  This one had, along with the beef, onions, garlic,olives, sun-dried tomatoes and fresh basil.  I was also somewhat intrigued by the seasonings which included dry vermouth and balsamic vinegar.

So to try something different, I offer to you this Mediterranean influenced beef stew.  Not hard to make and pretty good.  In fact we had it for dinner the next day and I think it was even better on day two.  My only addition to the recipe from the cookbook would be to add some salt.  The recipe does not call for it, but it does need it.  Perhaps the olives were to supply that, but mine did not.

Worth a try if you are looking for a different beef stew taste than the traditional.

  --- Tom

Mediterranean Beef Stew
(from Simply Stews by  Susan Wyler)

6-8 servings

2 pounds lean stew meat - I used a sirloin steak which I trimmed and cut into roughly 1" cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions sliced
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3/4 cup dry vermouth
1 28-ounce can of Italian diced tomatoes including the juices
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated black pepper
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cups water
1/3 cup quartered and pitted Kalamata olives - if you can find them pre-pitted, use that!
1/3 cup sun-dried tomato strips packed in oil
1/2 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves, shredded
salt to taste - my addition about 1 teaspoon

Prepare the meat and the onions for sautéing.  Use a heavy flameproof casserole dish with cover.
Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and add half the amount of meat.  Cook until brown, which will take about 5 minutes.
Remove the first batch of meat and repeat with the second batch.  Once browned, remove it to the plate as well.
Next add the sliced onions to the casserole and cook until they turn golden with brown edges.  This will take another 5-7 minutes.
Once done, the onions should look like this.
Now add the dry vermouth.  The pan is hot so be careful to avoid the rapidly rising alcohol steam that is generated.
Cook the vermouth until it is reduced by half.  This will take a couple of minutes.

Next add the diced tomatoes and their juices.  Also add the balsamic vinegar, black pepper, red pepper flakes and 1 1/2 cups of water.

Now add the browned meat and all of the meat juices from the plate.  Stir the whole mixture up.  Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down to simmer.  Simmer for at least 1 1/4 hours.  Longer is better.

Now add the Kalamata olives.  Stir this up and cook for another 20-30 minutes.   At the end of this time, test for saltiness.  Mine needed it, so I added about a teaspoon of salt.

Now add the sun-dried tomatoes and simmer for another 5 minutes or so.

Just before you are ready to serve, add the fresh basil.  Stir it into the stew.

The cookbook recipe said to serve this over noodles, polenta or mashed potatoes, but I chose to serve it over rice.  I prepared the rice per the directions but substituted chicken stock for the water. I find using chicken stock adds a rich taste to the rice.

Put a layer of rice in the bottom of a plate or pasta bowl.  Ladle the stew mixture over the rice, and enjoy.  The next day, Barbara added some lemon zest and I added a bit of Worcestershire sauce as I was craving some tamarind flavor.  Don't ask me why!

From an uninspired day came a pretty good meal.  Give this a try.


1 comment:

  1. Gotta love a good old fashioned beef casserole, thanks for sharing this recipe...