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A cool night is
This is pure comfort food which will warm you and satisfy you.
Mediterranean Beef Stew is made using a less expensive cut of meat which requires long, slow cooking to tenderise the beef and extract the maximum flavour. Not only are long-simmered stews satisfying to eat, they are also satisfying to make.
Initially, I brown the seasoned, cubed meat in my Dutch Oven. This is an important step. Searing caramelises the surface of the meat. It gives the meat an appetising colour and a wonderful depth of flavour. The browning of the meat is the first step in adding flavour to the finished dish.
After the beef is removed from the pan I add chopped onions and garlic. The onions and garlic add extra depth to the tremendous amount of flavour which is now a residue in the pan due to the browning of the meat. The next stage is to return the meat to the pan, add the tinned tomatoes, beef stock and rosemary and cook long and slow. It’s all about building layers of flavour in the dish. Once the dish is quietly simmering, you are able to step away from the stove for a time to let the magic take place.
After 90 minutes or so of cooking, I check that the meat is almost at the tenderness I require.
If so, I add the zucchini and capsicum and 30 minutes later the Mediterranean Beef Stew is ready to be enjoyed. My tip to keep this stew fresh-looking is to add the vegetables for the last 30 minutes of cooking time. That way they will retain their texture. If they are added at the same time as the beef they will become soft and mushy and difficult to identify. In addition, when not over-cooked they retain their colour making the dish much more aesthetically pleasing.
There’s really nothing fancy about this dish. However, from the inviting aroma to the robust flavour, this Beef Stew carries the promise of comfort and warmth. It is, simply, wonderful, old-style comfort food.
This is a versatile dish. It’s a great make-ahead meal, ideal when entertaining friends, be it a large or small gathering. However, it is simple enough to be enjoyed on a weeknight. I do hope you will try it – I am sure you will like it. I love to serve with buttered noodles, Gnocchi
Please let me know in the comments below if you try it.
Alex and Faye xx
Mediterranean Beef Stew
- 1 kg stewing beef* cut into 3 ½ cm / 1 ¼ ” cubes
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tbsp olive oil divided
- 1 large onion cut into 3 ½ cm / 1 ¼ ” cubes
- 4 cloves garlic roughly chopped
- 800 g crushed tinned tomatoes
- 1 cup beef stock 250 ml
- 3 tsp fresh rosemary finely chopped
- 1/4 tsp chilli flakes optional
- 2 large zucchini/courgette cut into slices 1 cm/1/3” wide
- 2 large red capsicum/bell peppers cut into 2 ½ cm/1” squares
- 1/2 cup Kalamata olives pitted
- 3 tbsp fresh parsley chopped, divided
- sea salt and black pepper to taste
- pasta/noodles, mashed potato, rice or a green salad.
- Pat the meat dry with paper towels. This will help the meat to form a nice brown crust when seared.Sprinkle the beef with salt and pepper.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of oil, over high heat, in a large, heavy-based Dutch Oven or saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. The oil should not smoke. You will notice that the oil is hot and ready to use when it begins to shimmer.
- Add 1/3 of the beef to the pan. Brown the meat for a minute or two on all sides*. Remove the meat to a plate and set it aside. Repeat with the remaining beef, adding more oil if necessary.Turn the heat down to low. Add a little extra oil if necessary.
- Add the onion and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add the garlic and cook a further minute and stir again to ensure the garlic doesn’t burn.
- Return the cooked beef, including any juices, to the pan.Add the tomatoes, beef stock, rosemary and chilli flakes (if using). Stir well.Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 1 ½ – 2 hours or until the meat is almost at perfect tenderness. Stir occasionally.
- Add the zucchini and capsicum, stir well and cover again. Cook for 30 minutes. Stir halfway through and add a little more water if necessary.Add the olives and 2 tablespoons of parsley*.Check the seasoning, adding additional salt, pepper or chilli flakes to taste.
- Turn into a serving dish or serve, family-style, at the table in the pan in which it was cooked.Add the remaining parsley just before serving.Serve with rice, mashed potato, crusty bread or buttered noodles*.
*It is important to not “play” with the meat. If you try to turn it too soon it will stick to the pan. It will turn easily when it has formed a brown crust. This is an exercise which requires patience. If moved too much the meat will release its juices and steam rather than fry.
* Contrary to a widely held belief, searing the meat does not actually seal moisture inside the meat, as you will notice. The seared meat, when removed to a plate, will release a lot or moisture. However, browning the meat does add tremendous depth of flavour.
*To obtain maximum flavour from the parsley I like to add it at the end of cooking.
*For buttered noodles, boil the pasta of your choice until it is al dente, toss in a bowl with some butter, salt, pepper and chopped parsley.