Catalan Beef Stew with Mushrooms

I once ate Estofat de Bou while visiting Catalonia; the northeastern corner of Spain. This stew uses cinnamon and chopped nuts to create a distinctively different stew. Usually, this stew would also include some chocolate, but Chris Kimball omits it here. Using boneless ribs was a tasty upgrade from the usual chuck roast; having a deeper beefy flavor. The fine marbling of the ribs also makes the meat even more tender. The only drawback is the cost; the recipe calls for some ingredients that I don’t normally keep in my kitchen; like $6 for blanched almonds and $15 for a pound of oyster mushrooms.  I served it with mashed potatoes, but also rice would be good. 4-1/2 stars. The beef is spectacular, and the hints of cinnamon add kid-friendly character, though without the depth of French stews (e.g. here and here).

Spanish-Style Beef Stew

This recipe is somewhat less liquid than most stews; the bread crumbs mop up the free-standing liquid. Fortunately, the moisture is still there, but you will need to add extra water when re-heating any leftovers.

Issues:

  1. Principally, cost is the biggest issue with this recipe. The oyster mushrooms had a great woodsy flavor, but they cost $15/lb. By the time I trimmed away them stems I lost more than 50% of the weight. To get anywhere near 1/2-lb of mushrooms I would need an entire pound. While Chris Kimball says that you can substitute 1/2-lb of quartered button mushrooms, I think that white button mushrooms have too little flavor. I’d recommend a darker mushroom.
  2. I had a hard time finding a small amount of blanched almonds; and had to buy 2/3-lb for $6.50. Next time I’ll but a small $2 package and blanch them myself. It might be easy, see link.
  3. I didn’t have sherry vinegar, so used red wine vinegar instead. I already have a collection of 7 vinegars, so didn’t want to add another.

Rating: 4-1/2 stars.
Cost: $33.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess?  Medium.
Start time: 1:30 PM. Finish time: 6:30 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. The descriptions of how I prepared the recipe today are given below:

Stew:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Kosher salt and pepper
2 plum tomatoes ,
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 bay leaf
1-1/2 cups dry white wine
1-1/2 cups water
1 sprig fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2-1/2 pounds boneless beef short ribs

Picada:
1/4 cup whole blanched almonds
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 slice hearty white sandwich bread
2 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
8-oz oyster mushrooms
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar

  1. Chop your two onions to a fine dice. Slice your tomatoes in half lengthwise and grate the pulp using the large holes of a cheese grater; throw away the skins. Cut your boneless ribs into 2″ cubes (though they will probably be less than 1″ thick).
  2. Place a Dutch oven on a medium-low burner and begin heating 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When oil begins to shimmer, add minced onions, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Saute for 40 minutes until the onions become deeply caramelized.
  3. Add tomatoes, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, and bay leaf to the pot. Saute for 8 minutes until it becomes darkened.
  4. Meanwhile begin to pre-heat your oven to 300-degrees, with an oven rack in the middle position.
  5. Add wine, water, thyme sprig, and cinnamon to the Dutch Oven, and use the liquid to deglaze the pan. Season the meat with 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper.
  6. Add beef to Dutch oven and turn up burner to high heat until simmering. Move uncovered pot to oven and bake for 1 hour.  Stir stew so that meat will cook evenly, and cook, still uncovered, for 1-1/2 to 2 hours more. The mean will be very tender.
  7. You have the option of stopping here; refrigerating, and finishing the next day. I did this because I made it mid-week and it was the only way it would be ready for dinner. When you re-heat over a medium burner and add 1 cup water.
  8. To prepare the picada remove the crust for the bread and tear into 1″ pieces. While the stew is still in the oven, place a 10″ skillet over a medium burner and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Saute the almonds for 5 minutes until they become golden brown. Use a slotted spoon to move the almonds to the bowl of a food processor.
  9. Add the bread to the skillet (using the leftover oil from the almonds) and toast for about 4 minutes until it becomes nicely browned; stirring to ensure even browning.
  10. Add bread to food processor. Peel your two garlic cloves and add to food processor.
  11. Process for 20 seconds until it becomes finely ground. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Sprinkle in parsley and set aside.
  12. Remove the pot from the oven, and find and remove the bay leaf. Mix in the mixture from the food processor into the pot.
  13. Return your 10″ skillet over medium burner; add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Heat until it begins to shimmer, then add mushrooms and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Saute for 7 minutes or until the mushroom become tender. Stir into stew in Dutch oven.
  14. Add vinegar and sprinkle in salt and pepper according to taste.
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5 Responses to Catalan Beef Stew with Mushrooms

  1. Les Moor says:

    The ATK episode with this recipe just aired today in Dallas. Thanks for sharing it with us!

  2. dianadiluxe says:

    Thanks so much for posting! Anything you wish you would have done differently once you were done? I am going to make this today.

  3. tammy says:

    any chance some of the cooking time can be done in a presure cooker to speed up the process

    • Hi,

      Maybe…but I guess I’m a traditionalist and enjoy the 3 hours the stew spends in the oven. It warms up my kitchen during these chilly winter months, and the smells, like Pavlov, make my kids run to the table when I tell them it’s dinner time.

      Mark

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