Monday, June 22, 2009

North African Beef Stew

I’m still in honeymoon daydream land…thinking of Southern Italy…the Mediterranean… exotic ports of call… Ah yes, this is the fun part… picking out place settings and invitations is alright…but I’d rather hike up an active volcano in Sicily with my new husband or wander into some Tunisian family-owned restaurant to sample some freshly caught, local grilled fish.

All of this got me thinking of the interwoven history in music, art, architecture and of course cuisine. I love how Sicilian cuisine contains elements of African cooking, like couscous, savory meats paired with sweet raisins and cinnamon, and, and, and…then it hit me…I have that delicious (yet lonesome) little bottle of pomegranate molasses in my cupboard just waiting for a purpose in life!

And I found it. Here is a recipe I adapted from cooking hottie Nigella Lawson. The exotic combination of spices can be found in North Africa, Sicily, and along the Mediterranean. The beauty of this brazen combo of flavors is how they mellow into a deep, complex and comforting dark broth. Dip some chewy Whole Wheat Molasses Bread (which you can make way ahead of time, and even freeze) into this stew and you’ve got some luxurious comfort food on hand.

Crock pot cooking in the summer is perfect because the kitchen stays nice and cool. I’m also loving my trusty crock lately because it allows me to shamelessly daydream about my groom and I jet-skiing the Tyrrhenian Sea…and I don’t have to interrupt my blissful vision to get up and stir the pot.

NORTH AFRICAN BEEF STEW

Ingredients:
2-3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 pound stew beef or lamb
1 onion, sliced
3 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
2 potatoes, peeled and cut into 3-inch chunks
2 Tbs. Soy sauce
1 Tbs. molasses or pomegranate molasses
1 Tbs. Honey
3 Tbs. Marsala
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp Turmeric
1 tsp ground Ginger
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
Ground white pepper, to taste
dash tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf

Optional:
3 tbsp pine nuts or slivered almonds
Cooked couscous or whole wheat egg noodles
Whole wheat molasses bread

Directions:
1. Sprinkle the beef with salt & pepper. In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil on high heat and brown the beef on all sides. Remove beef to a platter.

2. In a glass measuring cup, whisk together the Soy sauce, pomegranate molasses, marsala, honey, garlic, turmeric, ginger, red pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, white pepper.

3. Into the crock pot, layer from the bottom up: onions, carrots, potatoes, beef, thyme sprigs, bay leaf. Pour the sauce over the top. Cover and turn crock on low and fuggedaboudit for 6-8 hours.

4. To serve, first remove the thyme sprigs & bay leaf. Ladel the stew into big bowls and sprinkle the nuts over the top. I think a nice, thick slice of this whole wheat molasses bread serves as the perfect accompaniment for sopping up the delicious broth. You can also serve it over cous cous (in keeping with the North African vibe) or whole wheat egg noodles.

2 comments:

Jessica Martiele said...

Gotta make this STAT. Pomegranate molasses? Anything calling for THAT yummy stuff has me IN!

flappergirl said...

Hiya Jessica! Yeah I'm a recent pomegranate molasses convert! I saw some for really cheap in a Middle Eastern market and just picked it up. What an amazing invention!!!

 
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