Long ago, the cooks of the world discovered the efficiency of simmering tough meat in tenderizing water. They also discovered that they could add lots of local flavour to make the results more interesting. Today, beef stews are a part of cuisines and cultures around the globe. This one features the bright familiar flavours of the Southwest.
Yield: Serves 4 - 6
few splashes any vegetable oil
2 pounds stewing beef, cubed
4 onions, peeled and thinly sliced
1 whole head garlic cloves, peeled
2 red bell peppers, seeded and minced
1 or 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 28 ounce can whole tomatoes
1 14 ounce can pinto, red or black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
Thoroughly dry the beef by patting it with paper towels; dry beef sears better.
Preheat a large heavy pot over medium-high heat and add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pot. A thin film is not enough. Add a single layer of the beef cubes. Brown evenly, adjusting the heat as needed to keep the meat sizzling. Medium-high heat usually works best. Be patient, this is the only chance you’ll have to add the rich deep flavour of caramelization to the moist stew.
Rest the browned beef on a plate. Continue with the rest of the beef, browning it in batches. Add more oil as needed. Remove the meat and set aside.
Add the onions and garlic to the empty hot pan and stir well with a wooden spoon, scraping any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Continue until the onions are golden brown. Add the red and jalapeÃ±o peppers. Stir in the chili powder, canned tomatoes, beans and the browned beef.
Stir well and bring to a simmer. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and continue at a low simmer over low heat for an hour or so.
When you are ready to serve, stir in the frozen corn and cilantro.
For an extra layer of flavour, try grilling the meat first before simmering it. You may also top each serving with shredded cheddar cheese or sour cream.
This is one of the great beef stews of the world. It's a uniquely Hungarian dish that's half way between a soup and a stew. While in Hungary, I learned a couple of things. First, that every cook has a different version of this recipe and second, that everyone believes their version is the most authentic. So to me, that means all versions are authentic as long as they contain Hungarian flavours.
This recipe is dedicated to the memory of Ann Szemba, my Hungarian friend who traveled with me to Hungary and taught me this dish.
Over the years I’ve tried experimenting with many additions to the classic burger, and I’ve discovered that most just don’t work. One thing that does work is shredded meat from a tender beef stew. It adds a rich layer of beefy flavour and texture that I love! Just the thing to serve with my all-time favourite spud, smashed potatoes!