Friday, January 10, 2014
We dont have butchers here in the Maldives. We get our meat and poultry from supermarkets( or rather well stocked shops), where they sell imported meat and chicken and occasionally duck and turkey. The meat can be buffolo meat from india or beef from Brazil which is a bit better in quality and taste.
The best is from a slightly more pricier supermarket which sells really good quality meat from Australia.All the meat has to be halal certified as Maldives is a Muslim community. Sometimes I do wish they would come up with local butcher shops . As for buying the best of cut meat it was until recently I learnt a little about what were the best cut to use for stews and what to use for quick cooking recipes such as stir fries, thanks to cooking shows on tv and cookbooks.
The biggest mistake a lot of us make is how we cook the meat. I am constantly after my mum for vigourously cooking beef when she is making curries ,which results in the chewing textured meat. The best way to do this ( without sounding like a complere know it all) is to bring the contents to a quick boil then bring the heat down really low, cover with a lid and cook on this low heat for 1 1/2 hours. ( or you can pop in an preheated oven at gas mark 2 )
For stews and curries I use topside or chuck steak. For stir fries and steaks I use tenderloin or if I am really being indulgent I go and buy the pricey Australian beef flank steak or porterhouse steak that they sell at Fantasy store( thats a high end supermarket situated in Male' city ).
I made this stew using my trusty cast iron casserole although any good heavy bottomed cooking pot is perfect . If it doesnt have oven proof handles just wrap some foil on the handles.
Recipe : Beef Stew , recipe adapted from Gordon Ramsey's Beef stew with Mustard suet dumplings
550g beef ( chuck or top side or any good beef that you use for stewing and casseroles not tenderloin )
2 medium size or 1 large onion cut into wedges
1 carrot cut into large chunks
4 cloves garlic ( bashed up, that is a good whack with the knife)
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 bay leaves
pinch of dried chilli flakes
250 ml pure unsweetened red grape juice ( Use Dewlands or Rauch ) , I know what you are thinking but I like adding the grape juice with beef as it turned out pretty well when I made chicken stew.
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
500ml hot water
1 beef stock cube ( see note)
2 heaped tsps tomato paste
a little flour ( about 2 -3 tbsp)
finely chopped parsley
1. Cut the beef into large chunks about 1 1/2 to 2 inch cubes. Dry each with paper kitchen towels and season with salt and pepper. Fill a plate with the flour and roll each beef cube and dust off any excess.
2. Preheat the oven to gas mark 2
3. Heat olive oil about 3 tbsp in a casserole or a heavy bottomed pan, sear your beef cubes , in batches till brown on the outside but still raw on the inside. Remove to a plate and set a side.
4. Add the carrots , onion and garlic into the casserole and saute' for about 1-2 minutes, Add the grape juice and scrape the bottom of the pan to remove any bits stuck at the bottom.
5. Add thyme ( use fresh if you have ), bay leaves, chilli flakes, pepper and tomato paste. Dissolve the stock cube into the hot water and pour it into the pot. ( do not add salt!!)
6. Return the beef cubes along with any juices collected in the plate, bring the stew to a rapid boil and then switch off heat, put the lid on, and place in the oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Check once or twice and give a stir.
7. After about 2 hours, the meat should be melt in the mouth texture, remove from oven stir in half of the parsley and taste add salt to suit your taste. If you like your stew slightly thicker cook a few more minutes with the lid off on the stove top or in the oven.
Serve sprinkled with remaining alongside some nice crusty bread or garlic rolls or some bubble and squeak mash
Note: You can use fresh beef stock if you have or those store bought packets of beef stock, just leave the water and stock cube out and use liquid stock in its place.