This is a dish I would never have dreamed of cooking a few days ago. Then again, I was in the United States in 100 degree weather. Three thousand, five hundred miles west, in Ireland to be precise, is a whole different matter. It has been in the 60’s (mid teens in celsius), and my body is trying to adjust to the cooler temperatures. My mental state also needs a little adjusting as everyone here thinks it is warm enough for summer dresses and sandals.
I didn’t feel too bad complaining as my sisters who live here also long for it to be a little bit warmer. So, while I sat on a comfy couch in Wexford watching the men’s singles Wimbledon final, my two kids went out on Kevin’s boat to fish. As they were getting ready to leave Kevin asked if I had packed hats! Hats? Why in the world would I pack hats in the middle of summer?
When they arrived home hours later (sans fish!) they were full of stories about what it felt like to be bobbing on the ocean in a little boat, and at how seals had come right alongside the boat, popped their heads out of the water and stared at them; how wonderful !
When I thought about what to make for dinner I wanted to satisfy bellies with something warm and comforting. Stew is definitely one of the coziest foods when there is a chill in your bones. Kevin’s mother had put some surplus beef chunks from her grass-fed cow in his freezer and I pilfered a couple of pounds of it to make dinner.
Making this dish is so easy if you keep staples like carrots, herbs and red wine on hand. I didn’t need to go shopping as I scrounged whatever was in the fridge and pantry. The smoky paprika was amazing with the red wine, and the carnivores in the house licked their plates clean.
You will need:
3 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 lbs to 2 lbs (3/4 kg) stewing beef, cut into chunks (generally it can be bought in chunks at most supermarkets)
1 tsp sea-salt (if it is course or you are using salt flakes, you made need a little more)
several grinds black pepper
1 medium red onion, large dice
1 medium yellow or sweet onion, large dice
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 or 3 medium carrots, thickly sliced
1 large parsnip, peeled and sliced into medium rounds
4 cups spinach
3 sprigs fresh rosemary, left whole
1 tbs smoked paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper flakes (chili flakes)
2 tbs all-purpose flour
1 cup red wine
3 1/2 cups broth (chicken or veggie), OR 1 good quality bouillon cube & 3 1/2 cups water
Preheat oven 425*
1 – prep all veggies. Pat meat dry with cloth or paper towels, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put large casserole or heavy saute pan (one with a lid and can be transferred to the oven) on high heat and add about 2 tbs of oil. When it is very hot, sear the meat in batches until browned, adding more oil as needed. Transfer meat to a plate and set aside.
2 – Turn heat down and add more oil if pan looks dry. Add onions and garlic and saute for 5 minutes.
3 – Add rosemary and cook for another 3 minutes.
4 – Add carrots and parsnips and cook for a minute. Add the paprika and cayenne flakes and stir for 1 minute before adding the flour. Stir to incorporate flour completely.
5 – Add red wine and stir until smooth and bubbling.
6 – Add the broth and bring to a simmer. Add the meat and bring to a bubble. Turn off heat, cover with lid and transfer to oven for 1 1/4 hours.
7 – Remove from oven and add the spinach and stir gently.(Stirring will also loosen the meat and sauce). *If sauce is very thick you can dilute with boiling water until you are satisfied with the consistency* Cover with lid and allow to sit on stove-top or counter for 10 minutes, after which time the spinach will have cooked and the meat rested.
Serve alone, or with rice, pasta, bread or potatoes.