Moroccan Beef Stew
I've stolen this recipe fair and square and tweaked it; now I'm ready to share. Cooking it will fill the house with lovely aromas and then deliver a savory meal. The instant I read the recipe, I knew it would be worth fixing. My first time through, I made the recipe without the beef, but loved it so much that I ran to the store for some top round and 'retrofitted' the dish. Here, then, is my version...
Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil and brown 1 lb. beef chunks (round or chuck,) remembering not to crowd the pan; remove to a plate.
While the beef is searing, peel a large onion and halve it; turn each half on its flat side and cut side-to-side. Then slice from top to bottom into narrow slivers. This is more attractive than plain old chopping. Once the beef is out of the pan, add the onion slivers and cook over low heat until soft, stirring to release the browned juices on the bottom of the pan. When the onion is translucent, return the beef to the pan and add the following:
2-3 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
4-5 cloves minced garlic
2-3 tsps ground cumin
2 tsps ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
scant tsp Kosher salt
1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes (no sodium preferred)
1 8-oz can tomato sauce (again, no salt added)
1.5 cups low-sodium beef broth (rinse the cans with broth; waste not, want not)
AND finally, add a peeled, cubed butternut squash--1 to 1 1/2 lbs. I make an effort to cut the chunks into fairly equal sizes, but some variation is inevitable. It's hard to peel, so I cut the squash up first, then work slowly with a small knife to peel and then cube. Surprisingly, the squash does not seem to soften and disintegrate as it cooks. Add a little more beef broth if the meat and squash chunks are not covered.
Bring to a boil and then simmer, covered, 45 minutes. This can be simmered 30 minutes, then allowed to sit off the heat for a couple of hours before final reheating and cooking. It improves with time to mellow.
I serve this over brown rice. The original recipe recommended toasted slivered almonds as a garnish--and they're very nice if you happen to have some on hand. A green salad is an excellent accompaniment, of course, but this can be a meal by itself. The beef can be omitted for a vegetable dish; or leftover chicken could be heated with the rice, then topped with the sauce. It's that versatile and tasty.