By Riki Shore
We’ve had so many days in the 50s and 60s this winter, it almost hasn’t felt like winter at all.
But today snow is in the forecast and the mercury isn’t rising above 40. Given that it’s Sunday afternoon with nothing much to do, it’s a perfect day to make chicken stock, roast some vegetables, or stir up a pot of beef stew.
About two weeks ago we were invited to a potluck where the host had a pot simmering on the stove. The whole house was filled with the aroma of spices like cinnamon, cloves and cumin. Without asking permission, I peeked inside the pot. The stew was studded with chunks of succulent beef and slivers of dried fruit.
I was so looking forward to dinner that night, but the meat had been dredged in flour before browning, meaning that the delicious stew was off limits for me. Luckily there were many, many other choices on the crowded table. Still, I came home resolved to recreate that stew.
Working from memory, I googled Moroccan and Tunisian beef stews. I read a few recipes, and came up with a plan based on what I had in my pantry.
This stew is easy to make (aren’t all stews?) and just as delicious as the potluck stew promised to be. The leftovers are even better, the flavors having melded overnight. Simply reheat the stew gently for 15 minutes and top with freshly chopped cilantro.
We’ll enjoy this stew while we can – it’s supposed to be back in the 60s by mid-week!
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds stew meat
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 cups beef stock or water
1 cup dried apricots
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
1. Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven on medium-high heat. Season the beef all over with the salt and pepper. Brown the meat on all sides, about 5 minutes total. Remove the beef to a plate and set aside.
2. Chop the onion and mince the garlic. Reduce the heat to medium and cook them for 3 – 5 minutes, until soft and just starting to brown.
3. Add all the spices and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
4. Add 1/4 cup of the stock or water to deglaze the pan. Add the remaining stock or water and bring to a boil.
5. Add the beef back to the pot and simmer, covered, about 90 minutes.
6. Slice the apricots and add them to the pan. Cook for another 15 minutes.
7. Serve the stew in bowls topped with freshly chopped cilantro.