On Stew.

In my mind, there are two different kinds of people: cold-weather people, and everyone else.  In this case, I definitely am an everyone else kinda gal — though with my parka, a thick scarf and woolen gloves, I really don’t have cause to complain.  Besides, if I lived in a part of the world that didn’t have such an aggressive winter I’d never have the chance to warm up with a bowl of this stew.

I know that in the photo, this doesn’t look like much.  It’s okay to agree with me on this.  I won’t be offended, and neither will my stew.

The clichéd-yet-truthful thing about this is that looks are so deceiving here.  It’s impossible for this photo to capture the beautifully floury texture these potatoes take on after bubbling their way through two separate cooking stages.  Neither can this photo show you how the heat from the minced ginger subtly infuses the broth with a truly delicate flavor, or how incredibly tender beef chuck turns in a short period of time.  It also doesn’t show how quickly Keith and I plowed through our bowls, but that’s a horse of a different color.

Something to note: traditionally, this stew is made with yak meat.  I have no idea where to get yak, so I’m glad there’s a delicious substitute in beef.

Tibetan Beef + Potato Stew, from Saveur
Makes four portions

3 pounds Yukon gold potatoes
1 pound peeled carrots
Kosher salt, to taste
3 tablespoons peanut oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon coarsely ground celery seed
3 scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 pound beef chuck, cut into 1 ½-inch pieces
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons peeled, finely chopped fresh ginger
½ tablespoon ground coriander
½ tablespoon ground cumin

  1. Place potatoes and carrots in a large pot with 5 cups cold water; season with salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer, covered, until potatoes are cooked, 35 – 40 minutes. Strain, reserving cooking liquid; let ingredients cool. Once cool, remove skins from potatoes; cut into 1 ½-inch chunks. Cut carrots into 1-inch lengths. Set aside.
  2. Return the pot to medium-high heat; add oil. When hot, add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in celery seeds and scallions. Carefully pour in ½ cup water and cook until scallions are crisp-tender, about 1 minute. Add beef, season with salt and pepper; reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the reserved cooking liquid, potatoes, and carrots along with the butter, ginger, coriander, and cumin. Bring to a boil, reduce to medium-low, and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until beef is tender and sauce has thickened, 30 – 35 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve, if you like, with steamed white rice.
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