Green beans of all kinds are a favorite of mine, so finding ways to add extra flavor and texture to them is something I’m constantly experimenting with. Like the Stew Chicken With String Beans I shared with you a while back, this stewed beef with string beans is almost identical. However by using beef instead of chicken, you’ll notice a subtle difference in the overall taste of the completed dish.
This dish was usually made by our mom when she had some leftover Caribbean style stewed meats from the night before (beef, pork or chicken) and even as a child, it was a hit with me. As a matter of fact.. it was a hit with all of her four children. Our dad was never and still isn’t a picky eater, so he’ll do damage to anything placed in front of him (with the exception of pork).
1 lb beef – cubed into 1 inch pieces
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon ketchup
2 cloves of garlic – thinly sliced or crushed
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion – chopped
1 medium tomato – chopped
1 tablespoon green seasoning
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 scotch bonnet pepper
1 lime or lemon or 3 tablespoons of vinegar
1.5 lbs string beans (trimmed)
Trim the beef into 1 inch cubes, then wash with cool water and juice of the lime, lemon or vinegar, Drain dry and set aside as we prep the ingredients we’ll be using to marinate it with. Chop the tomato, onion, scallion and garlic. Remember to wear gloves when chopping the scotch bonnet pepper, don’t include any seeds as that’s where the raw heat is and do wash your hands with soap and water immediately after handling such hot peppers.
In a large blow, place the washed beef pieces and season with the salt, black pepper, grate in the ginger, green seasoning, worcestershire sauce, ketchup and all the ingredients we chopped. Give it a good stir and allow that to marinate in the fridge for 15 minutes.. 2 hours would be best though. (all you should have left is the veg oil, brown sugar, beans and water from the ingredient list).
Remove from the fridge and allow it to come back to room temp (about 10 minutes) and get ready to ‘stew’. If you’ve never seen this done you may find it a bit strange, since we’re making a sort of caramel and you’ll think it will be sweet. NOPE! Heat the oil in a large heavy pot (one with a lid) , then stir in the brown sugar. It’s important that you have a long handle (dry) spoon and have the seasoned beef close at hand. This step can be a bit tricky, so be prepared. The long handle spoon is to prevent getting hit with splatters of that hot oil/caramel as you add the seasoned pieces of beef to the pot. Your heat should be med/high and you’ll start to see it smoke and the sugar will start to melt. Keep stirring until you see it go frothy and start to change colour. When it reaches a dark brown colour, it’s time to add the seasoned beef to the pot. Add small batches at a time and keep stirring. Try to avoid the sugar/caramel going black or you’ll end up with bitter tasting beef. Watch the video below to see exactly how I did it.
If you’re wondering.. yes, the marinade all went into the pot. The goal here is to create a lovely flavor base and rich colour. Give it a good stir once you have all the pieces of beef in the pot, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a rolling boil (it will spring it’s own natural juices). Cover the pot and let that go for about 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, take off the lid and crank up the heat to burn off all that liquid. In the same bowl you marinated the beef, add the 2 cups of water and swish it around to pick up any remaining marinade.
With all the liquid gone from the pot, add the water from the bowl to the pot and bring to a boil. In case you’re wondering why we burnt off the liquid only to add more, here’s why… t his step infuses the meat with the rich flavor and created a lovely depth of colour which we needed as a base for this stewed beef with string beans. As it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, place the lid on the pot and allow that to cook for about 50-60 minutes. The idea is to have this beef very tender.
As this simmers away, it time to trim and wash the string beans. If you don’t have string beans, you can certainly use bodi (yard beans) or any type of green beans you may have. Trim off the ends and discard, then break (or cut) into 1 to 1.5 inch pieces. Give it a wash and allow to drain.
After 50 minutes (remember to stir every 5-7 minutes) you should have tender beef pieces and your kitchen should have a wicked Caribbean scent. There should still be a little liquid in the pot, so start adding the trimmed beans in and give it a good stir. Take the heat up to med and bring to a boil. With the little liquid we have, it will be almost like steaming the beans in the stewed beef.
Here’s where you’ll personalize this dish. I allowed the pot to go for about 12 minutes after adding the beans as I like the beans to maintain a bit of that lovely green colour and have a little ‘bite’ to them. If you like your beans cooked soft, you’ll have to cook it a bit longer. Taste for salt at this point and adjust accordingly. Turn up the heat to burn off any liquid.
This dish is loaded with flavors and uniquely Caribbean! As a side dish it can serve about 5 people and goes well with rice or roti… but Tehya and I usually eat it like a stir fry when we can’t wait for the rice to be done cooking. It’s also great on sandwiches!