Lentil and Chorizo Stew

Lentil and Chorizo Stew

Yesterday my baby girl was home sick with a tummy bug, which incidentally I caught, so I decided to make her a clear broth.  I had some chicken and ham bones in the fridge, plus loads of veggies, and I always have some herbs and spices on hand, so it was easy-going.  Today she is feeling much better, and I put that delicious stock to good use.  Lentils-  I love lentils, having grown up eating it almost every week.  In Colombia our grains are usually accompanied with white rice, but here in Spain, lentils are eaten as a dish on its own.  That is what I was going for today, swapping my usual “latino” herbs and spices for some more “mediterranean” ones.  Oh, and let’s not forget the chorizo……no lentil dish worth its name would be without it here, since pork is king!

Lentil and Chorizo Stew

I love the chorizo in the lentils, it gives it a warmth and depth that really isn’t achieved with in our Colombian counterpart; at least in my home our lentils were more of the vegetarian variety.   Also, I added some smoked sweet “pimenton” to give it that extra smoky kick!  Adding the chorizo and pimenton makes this more of a one plate meal, no accompaniment needed, and as the weather cools down, it definitely warms your belly too!

So here’s what you’re going to need”

4 cups dark stock (recipe below)

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 onion, finely chopped

1/2 green pepper, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 tbsp tomato paste

1 carrot, chopped

1/4 cup chorizo, cubed

1 tsp smoked sweet pimenton or paprika

1 cup Pardina lentils, or Lentilles du Puy (french lentils)

2 bay leaves

1 sprig of thyme

Salt and Pepper, to taste

In a medium sauté pan, add the olive oil and warm it up over medium low heat.  Add the onion and green pepper, and sauté until softened, about 8 minutes.  Add the garlic and tomato paste, and cook for another 5 minutes.  Add the carrot, chorizo and pimenton, stirring and cook for another 2 minutes.

In the meantime, in a dutch oven or medium stockpot, bring your stock to a boil.  When boiling, add the vegetables, lentils, bay leaves and thyme.  Season with salt and pepper, and cook over high heat for 10 minutes.  Lower the heat to medium low, and simmer for another 35 minutes or until the lentils are fully cooked and it has slightly thickened.  Serve with fresh crusty bread and enjoy!

For the Stock:

This is a go to stock recipe that can be used as a broth, or base for other food preparations.  This makes about 6 cups, and feel free to swap some of the vegetables and herbs for what you have on hand.  The most important part is the cooking time so it really develops some flavor.

Makes about 6 cups of stock

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp butter

1 leek, sliced

3 shallots, diced

2 carrots, diced

2 celery sticks plus some leaves, sliced

1 large tomato, diced

1 cup cabbage, diced

1 tbsp tomato paste

Chicken bones and neck

3 ham bones

8 cups water

2 sprigs of sage, roughly chopped

2 sprigs of thyme

3 bay leaves

1 tsp black peppercorns

Salt, to taste

In a large dutch oven, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat.  Add the leek, shallots, carrot, celery, tomato and cabbage, cook for about 15 minutes, until softened.  Raise heat to high, add the tomato paste and your bones, stirring constantly to incorporate the paste.  Add the water and the rest of the ingredients.  Boil for about 10 minutes, and then lower heat to medium high, and cook for another 40 minutes.  Turn off heat, and cover to let the flavors meld for another 20 minutes.

Strain through a chinois, and return to the dutch oven.  If you want a very clear broth, like consome, then when the stock is simmering, add 2 scrambled egg whites to the stock, and let it simmer for about 5 minutes.  Remove the egg whites, this picks up all the impurities and leaves you with a crystalline broth.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

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Saveur Magazine Classic Recipes No. 61 – Carbonnade (Flemish Beef and Beer Stew)

Beef and Beer Stew

I had heard about this dish a log time ago.  My friend Kiana, who lives in Brussels, was always posting on Facebook that she was making it.  Initially, I thought she was talking about Carbonara, a.k.a, spaghetti carbonara.  Then, I humbly learned that not only was it not even close to carbonara, but the only thing similar is that it both has bacon in it, at least according to this recipe.

I was obviously intrigued about making this, and was quite pleased upon seeing it in the magazine.  This became a no-brainer, since the weather is quite accommodating here in Madrid at the moment.  This beef stew begs for rainy or snowy days and toasty evenings snuggled under a blankie.  This is the stuff of wood chalets and fire places my friends.  Unfortunately, I don’t have either.  But, I can imagine my friend Kiana and her gorgeous family eating it a-la-ski-lodge, in their pj’s all snuggled around their fire.  Dreamy!

Anyhow, I digress.  The stew is quite easy, and the ingredients readily available.  It is imperative that you use a nice dark beer, preferably Belgian.  I used Chimay Red Cap, in absence of any other type of Belgian beer here in Spain. Kiana recommended Rochefort……if you can find it, use it.  But, what I thought gave this dish such an elegant and nuanced flavor, was the tarragon.  Oh, my beating heart.  The sauce, well, it speaks for itself.  If you don’t make this, you’ll be sorry.  Really.  I’m that serious.

So, on to the ratings:

Overall Points:  8.9/10 – the most points yet!

Difficulty:  Easy to medium, just cause it takes a long time

Availability of ingredients:  Readily available, except maybe for the tarragon

2 lb beef chuck, cut into 2″ x 1/2″ thick slices

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1/4 cup flour

4 tbsp. unsalted butter

4 slices bacon, finely chopped

6 cloves garlic, finely chopped

3 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced lengthwise

2 cups Belgian – Style ale, like Ommengang Abbey Ale

1 cup beef stock

2 tbsp. brown sugar

2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

3 sprigs thyme

3 sprigs parsley

2 sprigs tarragon

1 bay leaf

Bread, for serving

Season beef with salt and pepper in a bowl; add flour and toss to coat.  Heat 2 tbsp of butter in a 6-qt. Dutch oven over medium high heat.  Working in batches, add beef; cook, turning, until browned, about 8 minutes.  Transfer to a plate; set aside.  Add bacon; cook until its fat renders, about 8 minutes.  Add remaining butter, garlic, and onions; cook until caramelized, about 30 minutes.  Add half the beer; cook, scraping bottom of pot, until slightly reduced, about 4 minutes.  Return beef to pot with remaining beer, stock, sugar, vinegar, thyme, parsley, tarragon, bay leaf, and salt and pepper; boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, covered, until beef is tender, about 1 1/2 hours.  Serve with bread.  Serves 4.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Beef and Wild Mushroom Stew with Pearled Barley

Beef and Wild Mushroom Stew with Pearled Barley

It’s wild mushroom season here, but unfortunately, it hasn’t rained much so there aren’t very many wild mushrooms.  Nevertheless, I was craving a stew, a beef stew.  There is a typical dish here called Fricando”, where you make a gorgeous stew with Moxiernon mushrooms.  I think the translation is St. George’s Mushroom.  It’s small, dark brown with a thin stem and perfect little cap.  I bought the dried variety, because for stews, I find that the umami  is more enhanced and concentrated.

I love making stews because once you have done some minimal prep work, and you start to simmer it, all you have to do is sit back and relax and let nature do its magic.  Mine was on the stove for about 3 hours, so your beef is succulent and completely melts in your mouth!  I added a whole bottle of Ribera del Duero wine, to make it even more luxurious.

Instead of potatoes or rice, I opted for barley.  I love the nutty taste of it, and also the texture beats rice or potatoes any day in my book!  Apart from that, it is a powerhouse of nutritional value.  Great source of fiber, filled with vitamins, antioxidants and phytochemicals, which we all by now are great cancer fighting properties.

So why not make this dish and luxuriate, knowing that your taste buds and your health will thank you!

Here’s what you’re going to need:

Serves 4

1 lb beef for stew

4 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 large celery rib, chopped

1 swede, chopped

1/2 leek, sliced

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 carrots, sliced

1 parsnip, sliced

200 g dried wild mushrooms, rinsed and soaked in warm water for 20 minutes

1 good bottle of red wine

2 bay leaves

Salt and Pepper to taste

3 tsp bisto mixed with a 1/2 cup water

1 tsp gravy master

2 tsp white wine vinegar

In a large stock pot over high heat, brown the beef on all sides.  Remove the beef with a slotted spoon, and set aside.  Add a touch of the wine to deglaze the pot, stirring so all the brown bits are incorporated into your oil.  Once the wine has evaporated, reduce the heat to low, and add the onion, celery, swede and leek.  Cook until translucent, about 15 minutes.  Add the garlic, carrot and parsnip, and cook another 5 minutes.  Return the beef to the pot, and add the mushrooms with the water they were soaking in, the red wine, bay leaves and salt and pepper.  Raise the heat to high and let come to a boil.  When it is boiling, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, covered.

Let simmer for about 2 and a half hours covered, stirring from time to time, and in the last half hour, add the bisto, gravy master and white wine vinegar.  Let simmer uncovered for the remaining 30 minutes.

Boil the barley according to package directions, and serve hot with the stew.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Green bean and Chickpea “Stew”

Chickpeas to me is comfort food.  My father’s side of the family being Egyptian/Syrian/Turkish, I have grown up eating this grain and it is a staple in my diet.  A couple of months ago I received my favorite magazine in the mail, Saveur, and I came across this recipe.

Initially, I wasn’t sure that I was going to like it.  Generally I like my vegetables barely cooked, fresh and crispy.  But this article praised slow cooked veggies.  I figured I would give it a try, thinking that I wasn’t going to be that thrilled with it.  What a surprise!  I fell in love with it.  It is really simple, flavourful, and the one word that comes to mind, is comforting.  It was so reminiscent of the flavour profiles that I grew up with, that instantly I knew I was going to make this dish again and again.

It is quite heavy on the cumin, which I love, but the original recipe calls for an hour of cooking time.  I reduced that to 35 minutes, because I wanted more tomato sauce than Saveur’s.  This is a perfectly simple and delicious meal that can be enjoyed on it’s own with a loaf of crusty bread, à la girl in a food frenzy’s.  But you can always have it as a side dish as well, with something simple, like grilled fish or steak.

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Adapted from Saveur Magazine

SERVES 4-6

INGREDIENTS

¼ cup olive oil

2 tsp. cumin seeds

4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tbsp. paprika
1 ½ lb. green beans, strings removed
1 28-oz. can whole, peeled tomatoes with juice, crushed by hand
1 15-oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Heat the oil in an 8-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat; add cumin seeds and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

2. Add the garlic and onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, until soft and lightly browned, about 12 minutes.
3. Add the tomato paste and paprika, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tomato paste is lightly caramelized, about 2 minutes. Add the green beans, tomatoes, chickpeas, and 3 cups water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until very tender, about 35 minutes. Let sit for at least 15 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld.