Cooking is simply a set of perfected techniques, applied to various elements, all strung together to make a recipe sing. So, with that said, I will offer a few secrets to success. First, make sure your meat is room temperature when you start, and your pan should be remarkably hot before you add the oil and the meat. I bought good stew meat, nice and lean, but don't worry if you have tough cuts you want to use. The slow braising is designed by nature to make your meat nice and tender. Here you see that I tossed the meat in flour and salt and pepper before searing in a medium-hot Dutch oven. Only a few minutes on each side does the trick. Then you remove the meat and set aside while you create the next bit of magic for your stew.
By having the stock ready in another pan, I can add the hot liquid to the pan I seared the meat in, a little at a time. Here you see I added about 1 cup of the stock, and then scraped up all those yummy bits of seared meat into the liquid. It is the base of our stew.
Now, add the onion, garlic and mushrooms and let them cook until the onions are translucent which is only about 4 minutes. Put the meat back in the pot, add the other 3 cups of stock, add the Moroccan seasoning, and you're ready to cover the pot and put in a 325 degree F oven to braise for 1 hour and forty minutes. When you take it out, you can see how all the flavors are turning into one, amazing meal, already begging for a spoon.
Yes, I know. It's hard to talk right now it looks so yummy. But stay with me. It's almost time for the bowl. What you see here is how I know adding flavors after the meat is soft is the right way to go. This step is added because there's nothing worse than mushy, colorless veggies in a stew. Why have one part perfect, (the meat,) and another party acting as the sacrificial lamb, (the carrots and potatoes,) all for the sake of efficiency? REMEMBER. Techniques, when perfected, create great cooking.
The addition of Kalamata olives offer texture, color and the right umami saltiness. Golden raisins create the very light hint of sweetness you crave. And it all slowly simmers for about 20-25 minutes until the carrots are tender.
If you like rice, which I do, make a batch of Spanish rice; saffron rice like I did, to put on the bottom of the bowl before topping with the stew. It is a really nice textural backdrop and adds heartiness. But you're fine to serve this on its own and well.
Your last step before plating is to add a handful of fresh cilantro an stir. Do not cook the cilantro. Really, you will ruin in. Just let it float there, looking all green and pretty and adorable.
Feel like you can do it? GREAT! Just download the recipe and watch the following slide show with all my photos, so you can stave off the cold and the hunger during your next cold Saturday night!
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Meet the Cook...
My name is Camine Pappas and I love to create beautiful and delicious food that anyone can make. My signature style is one of combining things in a way you might not expect as I work to find a hidden combination of colors, textures and flavors from the things that are in my pantry and/or easy to obtain.