Beef Stew with Squash, Corn, & Chile
- 2 1/4 lbs. beef chuck
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 rounded teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika (pimentón)
- 4-6 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- a small bunch of oregano
- 2 medium onions, sliced
- 2-3 red chiles, seeded and cut into thin strips, plus extra, finely sliced, to garnish
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, lightly crushed
- 1 x 14-oz. can chopped tomatoes
- 3 cups beef stock
- a small piece of cinnamon stick and a strip of orange zest
- 1 1/2 lbs. orange-fleshed squash or pumpkin, such as Butternut, Kabocha, or Calabaza, peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks
- 2 red bell peppers, seeded and cut into chunks
- brown sugar, to taste (optional)
- 2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
- 1/2 oz. dark, bitter chocolate (70% cocoa minimum)
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cut the beef into 2-inch pieces, discarding any excess fat. Put the beef in a sealable bag with the ground allspice and half the paprika. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil, half the garlic, a little salt, and some black pepper. Chop 1 tablespoon oregano finely and add it to the bag. Seal the bag, massage the marinade into the beef, and let marinate in the fridge for several hours.
When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 325ºF. Scrape the marinade off the beef and reserve it. Dry the meat on paper towels. Heat the remaining oil in a skillet and brown the meat on all sides. Do this in batches, putting the beef into a flameproof casserole as you cook it. Reduce the heat, add the onions to the pan with a pinch of salt and cook gently for 10-15 minutes until soft and sweet. Add the chiles, remaining garlic, and the crushed cumin and saut’ for another 3-4 minutes. Add the marinade and remaining paprika followed by the tomatoes and cook over medium heat for a few minutes. Add the stock, cinnamon, and orange zest, bring to a boil and pour over the beef in the casserole. Cover with a sheet of parchment paper followed by the lid to make a tight seal and cook in the preheated oven for about 1 1/2 hours.
Stir in the squash and bell peppers. Check and adjust the seasoning, adding salt, pepper, or a pinch of sugar as necessary. Cook for a further 30 minutes at 350ºF, stir in the corn, and cook for another 25-30 minutes. Make sure the squash is fully cooked. Remove the casserole from the oven and set over medium heat. Chop some of the remaining oregano leaves to give 1-2 teaspoons. Stir the chocolate and chopped oregano into the stew. Let it bubble for a few minutes, then serve scattered with the extra chile and a few sprigs of oregano.
Cooking with Pumpkins and Squash Brian Glover. Ryland Peters & Small, $15.95, 2010. Photo credit: Peter Cassidy