Perhaps I should be sleeping right now? Nope. I don’t think so, too much to do. But this time, it’s a good too much. We’re off to get the Christmas tree and then I can come back and work on this stew-I must say I’m excited about it. The recent issue of Cook’s Illustrated, which had the recipe, made it sound very promising. Oh, and the flavors, using a picada and sofrito-well, I think my house will smell divine in a few short hours.
Now, I rarely make beef stews, but when I do, I find myself eating the leftovers for days afterwards. Two of my favorites have been Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon, and Ropa Vieja, a Cuban dish with green olives, beef, and red, green, and yellow peppers. You know, it isn’t so much the end result that I enjoy, but the whole, day-long process. It’s cathartic (maybe a bit of a stretch) having to watch onions brown for 40 minutes, having to come back every half an hour to make sure the liquid is still simmering, time after time after time.
They’re also very homey, even though, no, my brother’s and father won’t want to actually eat it. They give the feeling of lots of work and yet don’t actually require it.
…Now it’s done! A day after I began this post I am going to finish it. It turned out wonderfully, even if some of the instructions looked like they might spell disaster. That might be an exaggeration, but I really didn’t think that grating tomato pulp would be so easy! Caramelizing the onions went as planned, the liquid didn’t cook down so much that there was none left…basically, none of the problems I anticipated occurred. Even the gluten-free bread worked well in the picada.
I waited until today to post this because I was finishing it very late last night and the lighting in our kitchen is terrible. This afternoon I was able to get much better photos.
So here it is! I should add that, one, I didn’t add smoked paprika, just normal paprika (we can’t find it here). Two, I didn’t have time to go find oyster mushrooms and just used Baby Bellas. Oh, and I should mention that I think it is much better the second day because the flavors have time to meld.
Spanish Beef Stew
Cook’s Illustrated-January and February 2012 (with a few notes)
Serves 4 to 6
Remove the woody base of the oyster mushroom stem before cooking. An equal amount of quartered button mushrooms may be substituted for the oyster mushrooms. Serve the stew with boiled or mashed potatoes or rice.
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, chopped fine
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Kosher salt and pepper
2 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise, pulp grated on large holes of box grater, and skins discarded
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1 1/2 cups water
1 large sprig fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 1/2 pounds boneless beef short ribs, trimmed and cut into 2-inch cubes
1/4 cup whole blanched almonds (I actually used pecans for this, because we have an abundance of them)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 slice hearty white sandwich bread, crust removed, torn into 1-inch pieces (I used 2 pieces of Scharr gluten-free bread-because generally gluten-free slices are small-and left the crusts on)
2 garlic cloves, peeled
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1/2 pound oyster mushrooms, trimmed (I used Baby Bellas instead)
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar (I used red wine vinegar)
1. For the stew: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-low heat until shimmering. Add onions, sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring often, until onions are deeply caramelized, 30 to 40 minutes. Add tomatoes, smoked paprika, and bay leaf; cook, stirring often, until darkened and thick, 5 to 10 minutes.
2. Add wine, water, thyme, and cinnamon to pot, scraping up any browned bits. Season beef with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and add to pot. Increase heat to high and bring to a simmer. Transfer to oven and cook, uncovered. After 1 hour stir stew to redistribute meat, return to oven, and continue to cook uncovered until meat is tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours longer.
3. For the picada: While the stew is in the oven, heat almonds and 1 tablespoon oil in 10-inch skillet over medium heat; cook, stirring often, until almonds are golden-brown, 3 to 6 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer almonds to food processor. Return now- empty skillet to medium heat, add bread, and cook, stirring often, until toasted, 2 to 4 minutes; transfer to food processor with almonds. Add garlic and process until mixture is finely ground, about 20 seconds, scraping bowl as needed. Transfer mixture to bowl, stir in parsley, and set aside.
4. Return now-empty skillet to medium heat. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil until shimmering. Add mushrooms and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring often, until tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to bowl and set aside.
5. Remove bay leaf and thyme sprig. Stir picada, mushrooms, and vinegar into stew. Season with salt and pepper. Serve.