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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Winter Stew




It seems like forever since I last posted a recipe. Truth be told one or another of us (or all of us together at one point) have been sick. We've caught nearly every kind of cold, virus and flu out there but all at the same time. In a nutshell, we feel like crap. But hey, life goes on and we must keep moving forward, right?

So let's get down to dinner. When I feel crummy I always want something warm and comforting. It helps if it's packed with vitamins and protein to help put me back on my feet. Who am I kidding? All you mothers out there can attest to the fact that we may get knocked on our butts, but do we get to rest? Um... that would be NO! So here's hoping this hearty meal will nourish my broken body. Lord knows, it's my only hope.

What you'll need:
about 3 pounds of stew meat
1 onion, chopped
3 carrots sliced on the diagonal
about 10 mushrooms (not allowed in my house)
6 green onions
3T fresh ginger, minced
3 T tomato paste (low sodium)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups beef broth (low sodium, gluten free)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
1 cup coconut milk, unsweetened
lime wedges

What you do:
You're going to start with a little exercise in kitchen prep. Chop the onions (both varieties), slice the carrots, slice the mushrooms (unless you are me, then your marriage contract states no mushrooms... ever). Mince the garlic. Peel the ginger. Did you know that if you use a spoon and scrape it on the ginger peel, it comes right off? Magic! Mince the ginger. Now, another handy kitchen trick: Take your cilantro and break the stems off with one giant twist. Put the cilantro in a coffee mug and start snipping away at it with your kitchen shears. This is much easier than trying to chop herbs that just end up getting stuck to your knife and flying all around the kitchen. Do the same with the mint. Open your cans and get them ready. Whew! Time for a coffee break! That was some serious prep! By all means feel free to enlist the household to help. I tried that once with my hubby. He tore his rotator cuff chopping the garlic. No, I'm not kidding. I think he did it on purpose to get out of his part.

Alright, so you've chopped everything within arms distance (you may want to inventory your pets) and opened your cans. You are now ready to get out a heavy and deep pan and add some olive oil. Get the pan hot. Dry your stew meat off with paper towels. I know it sounds weird but you want it to brown, not steam. Add the meat a little at a time and brown it for a couple of minutes. If you add your meat all at once the temperature of the pan will come down and your meat will turn all grey and look like mushed up brains. Don't do that, it's not cool. Remove it to a plate when browned. After all the meat is browned you can add your onion and green onion, carrot and ginger to the pan. Poor in a bit of beef broth to loosen the browned bits off the bottom and scrape the bottom of the pan. Get all those bits up! This is where flavor is born. Continue to saute the veggies about five minutes.

Things are starting to smell good, but this is only the beginning. Stir in the tomato paste and garlic. Add the coconut milk, beef broth, mint and cilantro. Now things are getting interesting. I don't even know what region this dish would fit with. It's kind of Moroccan- Thai meets Mediterranean-American. But I do know that your house smells pretty darn good right about now.

Ok, now add your meat back in to the pan and bring it up to a boil. Turn the heat way down low. Cover and simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally to keep all the pieces of meat covered with the sauce. After the hour is up take the lid off and raise the heat to medium. Let the sauce reduce and thicken up about 30 more minutes. You will add your mushrooms in the last 30 minutes if you choose to use them. Gosh, I miss mushrooms...

Serve it in a big shallow bowl with a generous squeeze of lime and don't be surprised if you get a knock on the door from the neighbors asking you what you are cooking. This dish can be smelled from across the street!

Enjoy!





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