Another morning spent re-organizing my recipe collection in Yumprint – this time re-categorizing the Beef Cookbook. While I had given considerable thought to creating subcategories for the types of beef used, I decided against that. I don’t know about you, but I rarely wake up in the morning craving a particular cut of meat but rather find myself in a French or Mexican mood.
In any case, I found an old favorite – African Craved Beef Stew. While this is a recipe I shared way back in March 2014 (for me, that just a few months into venturing out into the brave new world of blogging), I thought this wonderful stew was worth a second look.
Years ago, I had discovered the recipe while surfing the net for some much-needed inspiration. When the time came to share this stew dish with you, I wanted to give credit where credit is due. Try as I might, I could not find the original source of my recipe. While Portuguesecooking.com has a very similar recipe, the whimsical tale regarding the origins for this stew were missing.
If memory serves me well (and most of the time it doesn’t), there was some debate over the true origins of this stew. It is considered to be a Peasant Food – and like most Peasant dishes, the origins are almost impossible to trace.
Some claim it is actually a Portuguese Stew with an African influence, while others hold to the assertion that it is the other way around – that Portuguese settlers to Africa influenced a stew that was already there. That said, no one will really know if this stew is truly an African or Portuguese concoction. What we do know is that Portuguese is spoken in many parts of African; and Portugal has had an influence on the continent since the 15th century. It is this blending of Portuguese and African traditional that has given birth to many dishes over the century. Regardless, variations of this stew can be found in the street side cafés of South Africa as well as Portugal. It is meant to be spicy, topped with fried potatoes and bread for soaking up all the wonderful juices.
While most beef stews call for hunks of stew meat, my take on this dish uses a flavorful Tri-Tip Roast. I’ve replaced the fried potatoes with oven-baked French Fries. While the French Fries remain loyal to their fried potato cousins, by baking the fries in the oven it makes this dish easier to execute without adding additional oils.
Just a little side note before we get to cooking . . . the first time I made this stew, Hubby flipped. He could not believe that I had taken a nice Tri-Tip Roast and threw it into a stew. Give it a try, I insisted. One bite and he understood the use of Tri-Tip. The flavor of hunks of Tri-Tip in a stew is delicious!
African Craved Beef Stew with Fries & Crusty Bread
2 tablespoons spoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 1/2 pound Tri-Tip Roast, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cups coarsely chopped Spanish or yellow onions
3 or 4 small hot chili peppers, stemmed and chopped (retain the seeds for added heat)
4 cloves garlic, smashed
2 bay leaf
2 cups red wine
1/2 Cup Beef Stock
18 to 24 Green Olives, pitted
1/4 cup flour mixed with 1/4 cup beef stock
coarse salt & fresh ground black pepper as needed
French Fries (thick Steak Fries work best)
Crusty Bread for dunking
Peel and chop Onion. Set aside.
Stem and chop chili peppers, retaining seeds for additional “heat” to the dish. Set aside.
Peel and smash garlic. (I’ve seen cooks “smash” the garlic with the side of a knife. Personally, I like to whack it with a small crafting hammer. It’s more fun!) Set aside.
Trim the tri-tip of most of the excess fat, retaining some of the fat for added flavor. Cut the tri-tip into 1-inch cubes.
In a heavy bottom Dutch-oven over medium-high heat, melt the butter with the oil. Do not let the butter reach its smoking point. (Adjust heat if necessary). Working in small batches, brown the cubes on beef on all sides and transfer to a plate or bowl to hold.
Toss the onions into the pan drippings and sauté until lightly golden to bring out the flavor of the onions. Add the hot chili peppers to your liking, along with the garlic and bay leaf. Cook 1 minute until it becomes aromatic.
Return the meat to the pot, along with the olives. Pour in the wine or and beef stock (not broth) so that it just comes over the meat about an inch. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover. Simmer for about an hour, checking liquid to make sure the meat is fully submerged.
After an about an hour; taste the sauce and season with a little salt and pepper. (Be sure to taste the sauce prior to adding salt as the olives will add a salty-flavor). Continue to simmer for about 15 minutes longer to allow the salt to do its thing. (Salt breaks down the proteins in meat, helping it to become more tender).
Mix the flour with a little beef stock to create a slurry and stir into the pan. Cover and continue to simmer for until the meat is very tender, checking every 15 minutes or so for tenderness. (About 30-45 minutes longer will do the trick). Once tender, keep the stew warm until ready to serve.
Make a large batch of oven-baked French Fries. Thick steak fries or long seasoned fries work best. Note: Curly fries or skinny fries are less desirable as they will fall apart in the stew.
Once the fries are done, ladle the stew into serving bowls. Top with a generous handful of warm fries. Serve with a thick slice crusty bread for dipping. DO NOT WARM BREAD – soft bread is best for soaking up all the juices.