Monday, 11 February 2013

Catalan Beef


This is a hearty beef stew with a picada or crumbled bread, nut and herb topping for something a bit different. It has flavours of garlic, paprika, cinnamon, and orange for a hearty  bowl that is warming and delicious on a cold winter night.

You will need:

  • 1 kg beef - cut into 1-2 inch pieces - chuck roast or stewing beef
  • 3 tbsp olive oil to brown meat (you will need more if you cook in batches)
  • 1 large onion - diced
  • 3 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • handful of dried mixed mushrooms
  • 6 cloves garlic - chopped fine
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper
  • 1/2 tsp paprika (hot or mild whatever you prefer...I used hot smoked)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp grated orange zest
  • 1/2 cup white wine or use the juice from the orange
  • beef broth (approximately 1/2 litre or just enough liquid to almost cover meat) 
  • optional = 1 square of dark chocolate just before serving
Picada -Topping
  • 2 cloves garlic - crushed
  • 3 tbsp fresh parsley - or a handful
  • 1/4 cup almonds (any kind blanched, chopped, whole)
  • 1 slice fresh bread (any kind)

1. cut meat into similar sized cubes. I cut mine into 1 1/2 inch cubes. I like the meat to still have some shape after the long braising however, if you cut them smaller the meat will cook faster. I remove any hard or large pieces of fat. Meat should be at room temperature and patted dry on paper towels before cooking.

2. heat a large pan on high heat. Add a few tbsp of olive oil and add dried meat allowing space between cubes to avoid steaming meat. Allow to get browned on at least a few sides before removing to a plate. If you need to do this in batches do so.

3. chop onion and fry in the same pan with a bit more olive oil. Scrape all the browned bits left by the meat. Once the onion starts to brown (may take 15 minutes on medium-low heat) add sherry vinegar to further deglaze  the pan.

4. Soak a handful of dried mushrooms in boiling water for 5 minutes to soften. Remove from water and chop.(add mushroom water to the stew when you add liquid later)

5. In the same pan or a heavy oven proof pot add meat, onions, mushrooms, mushroom liquid, garlic, salt, pepper, paprika, tomato paste, cinnamon, orange zest, wine or orange juice and cook for 5 minutes on high to reduce wine. 

6. Add enough beef broth to almost cover the meat. Cover pot with a lid and bake in a 350 degree F oven for 1 1/2 hour.

7. remove lid and continue braising another 1 hour - 1 1/2 hours until meat is very tender. You will need to check it approx every 20 minutes. Stir mix and check liquid level in pan. If you find the liquid is reducing too much add a half cup of additional broth at a time. You are looking for the meat to have a nice gravy but, not for it to be too runny. It should be thick like a stew not like a soup.

8. In a food processor add all ingredients for the picada topping. Process until fine.

9. In the last minute before serving add a square of dark chocolate to round out the rich stew.

10. Serve hot with a sprinkling of the topping, a slab of crusty bread and a nice glass of Spanish red wine!


1. cut meat into similar sized cubes. I cut mine into 1 1/2 inch cubes. I like the meat to still have some shape after the long braising however, if you cut them smaller the meat will cook faster. I remove any hard or large pieces of fat. Meat should be at room temperature and patted dry on paper towels before cooking.


2. heat a large pan on high heat. Add a few tbsp of olive oil and add dried meat allowing space between cubes to avoid steaming meat. Allow to get browned on at least a few sides before removing to a plate. If you need to do this in batches do so.


3. chop onion and fry in the same pan with a bit more olive oil. Scrape all the browned bits left by the meat. Once the onion starts to brown (may take 15 minutes on medium-low heat) add sherry vinegar to further deglaze  the pan.


4. Soak a handful of dried mushrooms in boiling water for 5 minutes to soften. Remove from water and chop.(add mushroom water to the stew when you add liquid later)



5. In the same pan or a heavy oven proof pot add meat, onions, mushrooms, mushroom liquid, garlic, salt, pepper, paprika, tomato paste, cinnamon, orange zest, wine or orange juice and cook for 5 minutes on high to reduce wine. 


6. Add enough beef broth to almost cover the meat. Cover pot with a lid and bake in a 350 degree F oven for 1 1/2 hour.


7. remove lid and continue braising another 1 hour - 1 1/2 hours until meat is very tender. You will need to check it approx every 20 minutes. Stir mix and check liquid level in pan. If you find the liquid is reducing too much add a half cup of additional broth at a time. You are looking for the meat to have a nice gravy but, not for it to be too runny. It should be thick like a stew not like a soup.



8. In a food processor add all ingredients for the picada topping. Process until fine.


9. In the last minute before serving add a square of dark chocolate to round out the rich stew.


10. Serve hot with a sprinkling of the topping, a slab of crusty bread and a nice glass of Spanish red wine!













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