Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Chuck Steak and Vegetable Stew

I have been busy. Wonderfully, fantastically, borderline overwhelmingly busy. It’s the kind of ‘busy’ that gives me breathing room, time to stretch out and do nothing, time to do a certain chore each day, time to work, time to meditate, time to play, time to climb. Within two weeks or so I’ve never felt so in tune with the current in which my life flows; and with school starting up again next week, not to mention possible career/volunteer opportunities to pursue, I will want as sturdy a foundation as I can.

Then there are the unexpected things that happen, the kind that don’t make themselves visible to you until someone else mentions them. The planner that I am and the Bisy Backson I tend to be, the recipes /adventures/product reviews in my posts are almost always preplanned with the intention to share on cyberspace.

This recipe was not a preplanned post. This post had no preconceived theme. In fact, I wasn’t intending on posting anything at all until tomorrow. But there was this rather insistent voice (i.e., Mama Dazz’s) to provide this recipe on Meals with Morri. And you would think by how persistent she was in my posting this it would be this elaborate meal with complicated directions to get it "just so". This could not be farther from the truth.

It’s the easiest thing you could make.

However, I do admit to using an ingredient that may bring a quizzical expression to your face (or at least a “Say what?” expression, although I have no idea what that would look like): black garlic.

Look at the difference!

I first heard about black garlic when I was watching an episode of the Food Network show Chopped. Almost a year later as I was visiting friends in Toledo after Thanksgiving, I saw bags of it at the store while shopping for dinner items and bought it on an impulse.

To say I was hooked on the sweet and savory, smoky almost teriyaki taste would be an understatement. And when I brought the rest home to share with the household, one bite and Mama Dazz ordered sixteen bulbs online. Apparently, someone loved the flavor more than I had.

Black garlic is that sort of ingredient to use sparingly, but is also that sort of ingredient you’re likely to put in everything. Gravies, soups, stews, curries, sauces, and marinades will be enhanced with such depth of flavor that it will be the ending note on the tip of your tongue that will have you wanting  second or third helpings.

Personally, soups and stews have (deliciously) never been the same in this house since.

Chuck Steak and Vegetable Stew

2 – 2.25 lb Chuck steak, cubed into manageable bite-sized pieces
1 Red onion, finely diced
2 Carrots, finely diced
2 Celery stalks, finely diced
142 g Baby bella mushrooms, finely diced
2 Garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 Black garlic cloves, coarsely chopped*
170 g Tomato paste
Sea salt, to taste
Cracked pepper, to taste
Water (Or stock, if you prefer)

Combine all the ingredients in a pressure cooker** and fill it with water until it almost submerges the meat and vegetables.
Place on medium-high heat until you can easily blend the tomato paste with the water, and then cover to cook on medium to medium-low heat for one hour.
Turn off the heat and allow the pressure to dwindle naturally.
Carefully remove the lid and stir the stew to check the consistency.
Adjust the taste with sea salt and pepper and pour into bowls.
Serve hot.

Makes 8 servings. 

*If you do not happen to have black garlic on hand (or simply do not prefer it), try using soy-free miso or coconut aminos instead. Click here to find it near you or order it online!
**This seems like the sort of recipe that would do well in a crock pot as well. So in case you don't have a pressure cooker, this may be an all-day make-the-house-smell-amazing sort of recipe. 

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