Source: The Spice House Recipes
A few weeks ago we received a 1/8 cattle share of grass-fed beef from Heritage Foods / Hearst Ranch. In amongst the steaks, roasts, and ground beef were a few pounds of meat labeled “fajita strips”, which provided a challenge for me as to what to do with them. Typically if I make fajitas, I like to grill a marinated steak then cut it into strips. This meat, since it was already sliced, didn’t seem easily grill-ready. However, since the strips were cut from beef chuck and round, I thought they would make a great chili or stew.
In another seemingly unrelated kitchen development, I recently ordered some exotic ingredients from The Spice House so we could try more Moroccan recipes – among them, preserved lemons, harissa, and Ras el Hanout. The Spice House website has a handy recipe section that you can search by the spices you have. Here I found this recipe for Braised Beef with Harissa and Preserved Lemon. Bingo!
I followed the recipe pretty closely since I didn’t know how this was going to taste, or how spicy it would be. This dish turned out much like a chili, except with definite Middle Eastern flavors. We really liked the subtle taste of lemon that peeked through the mouth-warming peppers from the harissa, and there was a slightly sweet taste of curry. The beef was so tender, it practically melted in our mouths. If you like a good bowl of chili, you’ll certainly like this!
We served it over a bed of gluten-free, brown-rice couscous, but it would also be great with “cauliflower rice” or other vegetables if you want to avoid the extra carbs.
- 2 pounds of grass-fed beef stew meat
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, or fat of choice
- 1 medium onion, large dice (I used a sweet Vidalia onion)
- 1 preserved lemon, rinsed, de-seeded, and chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Ras el Hanout
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/4 cup harissa (traditional)
- 3 cups beef stock
- several sprigs fresh thyme, tied together with butcher’s twine
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped (optional)
Preheat oven to 325F. Dry beef with paper towels and season lightly with salt and pepper. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large Dutch oven or oven-proof pot. Brown beef in the oil, and remove to a bowl (do this in batches – the meat will not properly brown if crowded in the pan.)
Saute onions in the same pot, until soft. Add lemon, garlic, Ras el Hanout, cumin, coriander, and harissa to the onions and stir until aromatic (about a minute). Return browned beef to the pot. Add beef stock and thyme – stir well to mix. Bring to a boil, then cover pot and place in oven for 2-3 hours, or until meat is tender. You will need to check on this occasionally, and make sure there’s some liquid in the pan. If it starts to dry out, add a little beef stock or water. Adjust seasoning, if needed, with salt and pepper. (I found that it did not need any adjustments.)
Remove the butcher’s twine with the remains of the thyme sprigs. Serve with couscous, rice, or vegetables. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro or parsley, if desired. Enjoy!
Ladies night at SCHC…! First up, One Cello X 16: Natoma by Zoe Keating. I discovered this in my search for cello music, and I’m glad I did. This is modern cello music, created by looping the sound atop itself, and then playing against that. This is a haunting work, that extends an age old instrument to new ears. Remarkable stuff!
Another mixture of old and new is Abigal Washburn’s City of Refuge. Armed with a variety of banjos and boasting an all-star cast of players (Bill Frisell, My Morning Jacket’s Carl Broemel, The Decemberists’ Chris Funk, Turtle Island Quartet’s Jeremy Kittell and throat singers!), this great record is a mixture of old time mountain music and modern pop. Not at all what you expect, and the record grows on you with each listen.