Beef and chorizo stew
In my usual way when it comes to cooking (apart from baking), I tend to be rather hazy when it comes to being precise about ingredients. I know that some people prefer to be given exact quantities for ingredients so I’ve tried to provide some sort of guide as to how much of everything you need.
2 large onions
lots of garlic
1-2 fresh chillies (or crushed dried chillies)
½ kilo stewing beef
3-4 medium carrots
3 large potatoes or 15-20 new potatoes
1 chorizo (*) sausage
4-5 bay leaves
2 cubes of beef stock
lots of chopped parsley (**)
black olives (optional)
Coarsely chop the onions and 3-4 garlic cloves. It’s a good idea to peel them first! If using fresh chillies, chop them finely. Sauté the onions in olive oil with the oregano and chillies. This makes a spicier version of what the Portuguese call ‘refogado’ (onions sautéed in olive oil until brown and sweet). Chop the beef into 2-3cm cubes. Add the beef and stir until browned on all sides.
Chop the carrots into discs ½–1cm thick. Stir into the mixture together with the shallots. If using large potatoes, peel and chop into pieces the size of a new potato. New potatoes don’t need to be peeled or chopped but they absorb much more flavour if peeled (tedious!) or chopped in half. Stir the potatoes into the mixture.
Cover with boiling water and adjust heat until the stew is simmering quite vigorously.
Remove outer skin from the chorizo and cut into cubes about ½ cm thick. Stir ½ or slightly less into the stew along with the bay leaves and crumbled stock cubes. Stir in lots of crushed garlic. Add about 1 cup of red wine.
Add salt to taste but be sure not to over-do it as stock cubes can be quite salty.
Simmer for about 1 ½ - 2 hours, stirring the mixture each time it’s necessary to top up with more boiling water. Another cup of red wine can be added after an hour.
The beef and vegetables will be tender by this stage and the liquid will have started to thicken a bit. The chorizo, after softening in the beginning, will, however, have got harder as its moisture and flavour infuse the rest of the mixture. It’s still delicious so remains in the stew but is now joined by the remaining chorizo. Remove a few potatoes, mash them and return to the stew. This helps to thicken the stew. Stir in lots (not all) of chopped parsley along with the olives, if using them. If you’re a garlic addict like I am, you may want to stir in some more crushed garlic at this stage.
Simmer on a lower heat for ½ hour, stirring and topping up with water if necessary.
By the time it’s ready to serve, the newly added chorizo will have softened nicely. If you feel that the stew still needs thickening, stir in some thickening made from combining flour with the liquid from the stew. Make sure you stir it in carefully and properly as you don’t really want your stew swimming in lumpy liquid. And don’t over-do it as you don’t want to turn it into gloop.
Apart from the words of caution at the end, this stew is very simple to make. It’s delicious at any time but perfect for winter.
Serve on rice, garnished with lots of chopped parsley. And if you’re not concerned about all the starch you’re eating, provide crusty white bread for mopping up the juices.
(*) If you ever got to read my post on how I prefer Portuguese chouriço to Spanish chorizo, you may be wondering why I haven’t used chouriço in this stew. Quite simply, chorizo is readily available in the supermarkets here, chouriço isn’t. Incidentally, chorizo (and chouriço) can sometimes have quite a noticeable orange colour (probably from the paprika used to make it). My orange theme continues…....
(**) I’d like to try it with lots of chopped coriander.