Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Beef Stew with a Spanish Accent...

Category: Beef
Difficulty Rating: Easy-Medium
Healthy except for the fat (which isn't all that bad according to some folks)

It's Common Sense to make beef stew. It uses tough cuts of inexpensive beef to make delicious and healthy meals. Even better-- you can make it in large quantities and freeze it in individual portions! I LOVE Julia Child's Beef Bourginon--which is French beef stew with red wine and bacon. This stew is sort of like Julia's, satisfying and rich , but it's oh so much easier! What gives it the Spanish accent is the Spanish Pimento olives and the Serrano Ham. Serrano is the Spanish version of Proscuitto, a thin, salty, cured Italian ham. Since the ham is thin, it ends up crumpling up in succulent little scraps that have absorbed all of the stew's flavors. Common Sense Tip: if you have Canadian bacon or even regular bacon you can use that instead of Serrano or Proscuitto. Save your money--it will still almost be as good. Serve with big chunks of bread and large glasses of good wine! Adapted from a recipe from a Spanish cookbook featured on HouseBeautiful.com by Ines and Simone Ortega. Yield: Serves 6. Freezes very well!

3 lb.s beef stewing meat (ask your butcher to cut up some chuck into chunks)
3 T olive oil
2 large onions, finely chopped
2 T flour (Pamela's GF works fine)
1 lb. can stewed plum tomatoes
1 C chopped Serrano or Proscuitto ham (or Canadian bacon)
1/4 t Bouquet Garni  mixed dried herbs OR a real Bouquet Garni made of 1 clove garlic, 1/4 t oregano, 1 sprig parsley and 1 bay leaf tied in a small cheesecloth pouch with string.  Note: I use a piece of clean old  sheet instead of cheesecloth--who has cheesecloth always on hand, anyway?
3/4 C  white wine
1 C Spanish pimento-stuffed olives


Heat the oil in a large pot or a Dutch oven. Add the beef, in batches, and cook, stirring occasionally, until evenly browned. Rmove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Drain off most of the oil, leaving enough to just cover the bottom of the pan. Reheat. Add the onion and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes until just beginning to brown. Sttir in flour and cook, stirring for about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally and breaking them up with a spoon. Return the beef to the pan, add ham and wine. Season with salt and add the bouquet garni. For best results: if using a bouquet garni pouch, wet it with warm water before adding to the pot. Mix well, and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Pour in water to cover and simmer for at least 3 hours. Meat should be very tender when done.

While stew simmers, cover olives with water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 1 minute. Drain olives and add to stew, cooking for 10 minutes. Remove and discard the bouquet garni. Serve in a warmed dish or individual casseroles.

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