Beef Stew with Squash, Sweetcorn & Chilli

Squash, corn and chilli form the holy trinity of southern States cooking. And here they are added to a beef stew that’s packed with spicy flavour and given added richness by the last-minute addition of dark chocolate. You could serve this in a hollowed-out pumpkin shell for real impact.
Beef Stew with Squash, Sweetcorn & Chilli from COOKING WITH PUMPKINS AND SQUASH by Brian Glover with photography by Peter Cassidy (9.99 in UK)
1 kg braising or stewing steak
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 rounded teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika (pimentón)
4–6 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
a small bunch of oregano
2 medium onions, sliced
2–3 red chillies, deseeded and cut into thin strips, plus extra, finely sliced, to garnish
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, lightly crushed
1 x 400-g tin chopped tomatoes
750 ml beef stock
a small piece of cinnamon stick and a strip of orange zest
600 g orange-fleshed squash or pumpkin, such as Butternut, Kabocha or Calabaza, peeled, deseeded and cut into chunks
2 red peppers, deseeded and cut into chunks
brown sugar, to taste (optional)
200 g fresh sweetcorn kernels
15–20 g dark, bitter chocolate (70% cocoa minimum)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Serves 6

Cut the steak into 5-cm pieces, discarding any excess fat. Put the beef in a sealable bag with the ground allspice and half the paprika. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil, half the garlic, a little salt and some black pepper. Chop 1 tablespoon oregano finely and add it to the bag. Seal the bag, massage the marinade into the beef and let marinate in the fridge for several hours.

When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 160ºC (325ºF) Gas 3. Scrape the marinade off the beef and reserve it. Dry the meat on kitchen paper. Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan and brown the meat on all sides. Do this in batches, putting the beef into a flameproof casserole as you cook it.

Reduce the heat, add the onions to the pan with a pinch of salt and cook gently for 10–15 minutes until soft and sweet. Add the chillies, remaining garlic and the crushed cumin and fry for another 3–4 minutes.

Add the marinade and remaining paprika followed by the tomatoes and cook over medium heat for a few minutes. Add the stock, cinnamon and orange zest, bring to the boil and pour over the beef in the casserole.

Cover with a sheet of greaseproof paper followed by the lid to make a tight seal and cook in the preheated oven for 11⁄2 hours.

Stir in the squash and peppers. Check and adjust the seasoning, adding salt, pepper or a pinch of brown sugar as necessary. Cook for a further 30 minutes at 180ºC (350ºF) Gas 4, then stir in the sweetcorn and cook for another 25–30 minutes.

Make sure the squash is fully cooked. Remove the casserole from the oven and set over medium heat. Chop some of the remaining oregano leaves to give about 1–2 teaspoons.

Stir the dark chocolate and chopped oregano into the stew. Let it bubble for a few minutes, then serve scattered with the extra chilli and a few sprigs of the remaining oregano.

Images and recipes courtesy of Ryland Peters & Small, from COOKING WITH PUMPKINS AND SQUASH by Brian Glover with photography by Peter Cassidy (£9.99 in UK)

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