It's been so long since we've been in touch, I hardly know where to begin. I've certainly missed all of you and of course, I've missed being in the kitchen too. I tried to make up for it a bit last night.
Big Guy's home from the hunting grounds as he has classes to teach for the next few days and that was reason enough to try something new last night. This Sicilian Orange Beef Stew is from Joanna Pruess' book, Cast Iron Cookbook and it's a real winner too.
Simply a 2 pound chuck roast cut into man sized chunks and browned then braised along with pearl onions (I used a package of frozen ones) and garlic, the flavoring ingredients include cloves, cumin and cinnamon. I didn't happen to have any ground cloves in my spice box, so I used allspice instead and it was a great substitution if I do say so myself. Ground cloves can be a little strong in my opinion.
Anyway tomato sauce, a half bottle of merlot, a cup of orange juice and a little orange concentrate as well as a couple of bay leaves and 2 hours in the oven was all this braise needed. Garnished with orange zest and served with some creamy polenta, the "tangy-sweet" stew is full of exotic flavor reminiscent of Morocco or even the Caribbean.
I'd make it again in a heartbeat. Just sayin'.
Sicilian Orange Beef Stew (adapted from Cast Iron Cookbook)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds beef chuck roast cut into 1-1/2 inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 – 12 ounce package frozen pearl onions, defrosted and blotted dry
4 cloves garlic, peeled and cut in half
3/4 teaspoon ground all spice
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup tomato sauce
2 cups merlot
1 cup orange juice
1/3 cup frozen orange concentrate
3 bay leaves
Orange zest for garnish
Preheat oven to 325. Heat oil in Dutch oven until very hot. Meanwhile season beef cubes well with salt and pepper. Dredge in flour, shaking off excess. Brown well in batches without crowding pot. Move to a bowl when meat is browned on all sides. Add onions to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally until they begin to brown - about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds, then add all spice, cumin, cinnamon, tomato sauce, wine, orange juice and orange concentrate. Heat to boiling stirring any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Return meat to the pot and add bay leaves. Cover and place in preheated oven for 1-1/2 hours. Remove lid from pot and continue cooking for additional half hour or until beef is very tender and sauce is reduced to desired consistency. Taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper as required. Garnish with orange zest. Serve over polenta, grits or rice. Serves 4.
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