A quick glance at the world outside my window just confirmed what my internal world already knew: It’s officially Stew Time! The Christmas Markets around town have opened their gates, doing their very best to counter the grey-on-grey, cold’ish, wet’ish “thing” that’s our signature early winter weather with the most delicious treats, aromas and, of course, all the hot spiced wine they can cook up.
One of those markets, with an exceptionally delicious Winemaker’s Choice of spiced wine on offer, is, very conveniently located right smack in the middle of our usual routes to/back from work, so, whenever we’re in the mood for a pick-me-up along those lines, we meet up for a mug of artisan’s spiced wine before heading home together. Now, while that’s already a great start into any evening, arriving at home and all the comfort it entails after a long day and a mug of hot wine can be that much more of a relaxing experience if there’s a hot bowl of soup or stew all but waiting to be dug into without much ado as far as I am concerned~ One of my absolute all-time favorites for that particular kind of gig is my version of the Persian “Khoreshe Beh” Beef and Quince Stew. If you’ve been following my posts for a bit, you’re probably familiar with my little obsession with quinces, so me having my own version of this delicious stew probably won’t come as a surprise – and some of you might have even been waiting for this one to appear~! You might even know that Linda, the creator of the wonderful blog Mrs. Portly’s Kitchen and I share that love of quinces and frequently bounce quince-related ideas off of each other – and just a couple of weeks back we discovered that “Of course!” we both have our own version of this stew. So, here’s my take on this delicious classic stew – make sure to check out Mrs. Portly’s yumtastic and very different approach to the Khoreshe Beh over here as well~! Here we go, stew-time for 4 hungry tummies~
The Spiced Beef and Quince Stew
1 kg Beef Prime Rib or ready-cut Stew Cubes – those will most likely be a mix of brisket and Rib bits depending on your butcher’s gusto
Opt: 2 Marrow Bones – they’re not essential but give the while deal that much more body
2 Tbsp Clarified Butter or Ghee
2 Large Quinces, de-fuzzed but not peeled, cored and diced into ½ – 1cm cubes
2 Brown Onions, finely chopped
1 Clove of Garlic, finely chopped
2 Carrots, sliced into ½ cm disks – I went with Purple Carrots for a) their intense aroma and b) their decorative effect
10 Prunes, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp of Golden Honey
1 Tsp Hot Chilli Flakes
1 Tsp Turmeric
1 Tsp Ground Coriander
1 Tsp Cinnamon
½ Tsp of Ground Allspice
2 Star Anise
1 Tsp Sumach
1 Tsp Fenugreek
3 Tbsp Concentrated Tomato Purée
Sea Salt and freshly cracked Black Pepper to taste
400ml Beef Stock – to begin with, make sure to have some more of it stashed away in
easy reach in case you need to adjust the liquid-levels in your pot later on
Enough water to fill up your pot to ½ way up your meat stack inside
Opt: A few Splashes of Orange Juice to adjust the full force of the beef
Opt: Natural Yoghurt
½ Bunch of Flatleaf Parsley, very finely chopped
1 Lemon, Zest
1) Melt the ghee in a large, wide cast iron pan or stewpot set onto medium-high heat.
2) Once it’s hot enough to sizzle up at contact with a breadcrumb or test-bit of meat, add the diced meat, oxtail chunks and the optional marrow bones in small batches and sear them on all sides until they start to develop a pretty golden-brown crisp.
3) Transfer the cubes to a large plate or tray and keep them covered with a sheet of aluminum foil until you’ve worked your way through all of them.
4) Once the last bit of meat has left the pan, add the onions and garlic and gently sauté them for 6-8 minutes, until they, too, start to take on a deliciously brown hue as they soften up.
5) Thats your cue to return the meat and any juices that have tried to make a run for it on the plate back to the pan.
6) Dust the lot with the spices and a generous helping of salt and pepper.
7) Stir in the concentrated tomato purée, lemon zest, beef stock, and just enough water for the liquids to reach halfway up the stack of spiced meat inside the pan.
8) Take a step back and allow the contents of the pot to work up a gentle simmer.
9) In the meantime, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a second pan or and sauté the quince and carrot disks for a few minutes.
10) You’re done with this as soon as the quinces start to caramelize around the edges, 3-4 mins should be enough.
11) Move the quince & carrot mix into the main force along with the prunes and honey.
12) Give the lot a gentle but thorough stir to evenly distribute the new additions throughout the mix, then cover the pan with a lid and turn the heat to the lowest setting possible.
13) Allow the stew to mind its own delicious business for roundabout 2-3 hours.
14) Check on it from time to time to make sure there is enough liquid in the pot – if the liquids have poofed out, stir in some more stock or water to keep it moist.
15) Stir in the orange juice once the time’s up and have a test-bite. Adjust cooking-time and seasoning if necessary. The meat should be melting in your mouth and the flavors should grow fuller and bigger on your palate as you try to keep yourself from spooning up more of the stuff~ In case the meat is still a bit chewy or the sauce a bit watery, go through an adjust routine and give the stew some more time to work up a punch.
16) Remove the marrow- and oxtail bones – make sure to slide off every last bit of the delicious meat into the stew while discarding the gnarly bits – have another round of taste-tests and, once you’re satisfied, ladle the stew into warm bowls before sprinkling the servings with a bit of parsley and lemon zest and adding a spoonful of natural yoghurt on top.
17) If you need a starchy side, grab some flatbreads or rice before settling into comfy mode and digging in!
18) By the way, like most stew’y things, this one’s just as good – if not better – the following day!
P.s: I really, really hope you like my version as much as I enjoyed yours, Linda~!