If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you may have come to the conclusion that the majority of dishes we prepare includes the process of “stewing”. Unlike what’s considered a stew in places like Canada and the US, our stews are based on the principle of caramelizing the meats to give it that so-unique brown colour and that marvelous flavour. But that very far from the truth, as our food culture is highly influenced by the many different races that make up the vibrant melting pot the Caribbean is. Today we’ll take a look at one of my dad’s most beloved dishes, stew beef!
Similar in every aspect of the other stewed dishes I’ve posted, except this one will take a bit longer to cook (to ensure that the meat is fall-off-the-bone tender) and we’re using beef, rather than chicken or pork.
1.5 lbs beef – cubed into 1 inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon ketchup
2 cloves of garlic – thinly sliced or crushed
1 teaspoon fresh or bottled ginger – crushed. (use 1/2 if it’s ginger powder)
2 tablespoon vegetable oil (one that can withstand high heat)
1 medium onion – chopped
1 medium tomato – chopped
2 tablespoon cilantro (or 2 tbs Trinidad green meat seasoning)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 1/4 cups water
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 hot pepper (only if you like your food spicy)
1 green onion or chive – chopped
2 sprigs of fresh thyme (1 teaspoon dried)
1 lime or lemon or 3 tablespoons of vinegar
1 small shallot
* I’ve seen my dad put mushrooms (white button variety) near the end of cooking and I must admit that though not traditional, it’s does compliment the dish. But I must admit that I do love mushrooms, so I’ll enjoy it in just about any dish.
Start by cutting the beef into 1 inch cubes, then using the lime (lemon or vinegar) wash (with water - not the one mentioned in the recipe) the pieces of meat and drain. With the cubed pieces of beef in a bowl, start to season. Add all the ingredients mentioned above, except the oil, water and sugar. We’ll be using those later on in the dish. Allow the seasoned meat to marinate for at least 30 minuets before cooking. For best results, leave to marinate about 2 hrs in the fridge.
As we’ve practiced in other stewed dishes, it’s time to get the sugar ready. In a heavy pot on high heat pour in the oil and allow to get hot, then place the sugar and move it around so it starts to melt, change color and bubble. Remember to use a long handle spoon to prevent getting burn and have the seasoned meat within reach. This step requires good timing. When you see the sugar fully melted and turns to a rich brown colour (see pic below), start putting in the pieces of meat. Remember to stir everything around, so it’s fully coated.
Leave on high heat for about 3 minutes, then turn down the heat to a simmer and cover the pot. Allow to cook for a further 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure all the pieces of beef gets evenly browned. You’ll notice that dish will release natural juices. Now remove the lid and turn the heat back to high med-high. We want to burn-off all the liquid and give the meat the lasting rich brown colour.
In the same bowl we seasoned the beef, add the water and swoosh it around a bit so every bit of remaining seasoning is mixed in with the water. When all the liquid (see pic above) is burnt away from the pot, add the water from the bowl.
Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to a gentle simmer. With the pot covered, allow to cook for about 1 hour or until the beef is really tender. If after the 1 hour of cooking there’s still a lot of water left in the pot, do turn up the heat and allow to burn off. You’re looking for a nice thick gravy.
This dish makes for a great topping for rice or ground provisions. In the pic above I have it resting on a nice bed of steamy boiled yams. But you can also pair it well with any side you usually serve meats with – salads, mashed potatoes … it’s also amazing on macaroni and cheese.
Other stewed dishes:
Please take a moment to share your experience with this recipe or if you have another version of it. Do leave me a comment below.