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).
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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:
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
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
- 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).
- 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.
- Add tomatoes, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, and bay leaf to the pot. Saute for 8 minutes until it becomes darkened.
- Meanwhile begin to pre-heat your oven to 300-degrees, with an oven rack in the middle position.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Add bread to food processor. Peel your two garlic cloves and add to food processor.
- Process for 20 seconds until it becomes finely ground. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Sprinkle in parsley and set aside.
- Remove the pot from the oven, and find and remove the bay leaf. Mix in the mixture from the food processor into the pot.
- 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.
- Add vinegar and sprinkle in salt and pepper according to taste.