October 15, 2011

Spiced Beef and Sweet Potato Stew

It's warm, smothery, and perfect for a rainy night.

This braised beef and sweet potato stew tastes like Fall and hints at winter. I made this stew on a weekday, a Wednesday night to be exact. I was craving warmth and meat. I'd like to think this stew is kind of perfect for a Sunday night, though. Maybe passed around by a family or group of friends around a big oval table and eaten from big, shallow bowls.

It was just M and me, and our pot of beef stew. I've never made a beef stew before but my cash was a little tight and when I went to the butcher craving beef, I was met with all sorts of steep prices. The least expensive were these hunks of vibrantly red beef cubes. It would have to do. I adapted this recipe from Epicurious, and added lots of soft, sugary sweet potatoes and a bit more spice. Try adding chickpeas, or serving over couscous or egg noodles. This is an easy dish that has made me a stew convert.

When he tasted his first bite, M exclaimed, "you should call this 'Not your Mother's Beef Stew!" I imagine that this declaration was the result of this stew's unique, complex flavors... I still have no idea what M meant, but he was too busy eating to allow me get a decent explanation. Truly, the mark of a great dish.

Spiced Beef and Sweet Potato Stew (makes about 6 servings)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 lbs cubed beef (chuck roast)
2 cups chopped Spanish onion
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1.2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup dry red wine
3/4 cup sweet white wine
1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 cups beef broth
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
Salt to taste.
Rice to serve.

Heat the oil in a dutch oven over medium high heat. Season meat with salt and pepper. Add the beef to the pot and saute about 5 minutes or until no longer pink. Remove with slotted spoon, and add onions and sweet potato to pot. Saute until onions are browned, about 8-10 minutes. Stir in garlic and all of the spices. Cook 1 minute, then pour in both wines, bring to a boil and cook about 10 minutes until it is reduced to a glaze. Pour in the vinegar, broth, and diced tomatoes. Stir to incorporate. Then add the beef and raisins and apricots. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 45 minutes. Uncover and cook for another 45 minutes (1.5 hours total). Season with salt. Serve over rice.

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