I’ve got a hearty stew with a subtle Christmas-season flavor for you today. According to my Flavor Bible beef and cinnamon are a match so I gave the two a try and was surprised at how well the flavors worked together. Now, a few things are absolutely crucial about this recipe: First, the slightly sweet cinnamon absolutely needs the spicy corn bread for balance. Without the corn bread the dish isn’t complete, with it, it’s delicious (in my opinion, anyway). So don’t skip the jalapeño corn bread. :-)
The second crucial part is that you get a chuck roast (which comes from the animal’s shoulder) rather than anything from the round (which is the thigh). The difference between these two cuts of beef stew meat is huge – round ends up tough and bland compared to the rich and flavorful chuck (not to mention that beef from the round makes you exercise your jaws while chuck melts in your mouth). Other than that, everything is straightforward.
For the stew you’ll need:
- vegetable oil
- a 2-pound chuck roast, cut into 1- to 2-inch cubes
- salt and pepper
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon (I used the true cinnamon, not cassia)
- 1 1/2 cups dry red wine
- 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
- 1 bay leaf
- two sprigs of thyme
- 1 cup of sliced carrots
- 1 cup of peeled, cubed potatoes
- 1-2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- Pat the meat dry and season with salt and pepper
- In a Dutch oven, brown the meat in a little vegetable oil on all sides. Sear the meat well but watch out not to burn it. (Unless you have a very large pot you’ll need to do this step in batches, if you crowd the pot the meat will just steam and not brown).
- Remove the meat and set aside.
- Add the onion to the pot and cook until translucent.
- Add the cinnamon and stir around for a few seconds until combined with the onion.
- Add wine and chicken broth and stir to bring all the brown bits in the pot into the liquid.
- Add bay leaf and thyme.
- Add the meat (and its juices) back into the pot.
- Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low, put the lid on and simmer for an hour and a half.
- Add carrot and potato and continue to simmer for another hour.
- Dissolve one tablespoon of cornstarch in a little bit of water and add to the boiling liquid. If the result is not thick enough for your taste, mix up more cornstarch and add.
- Add the frozen peas and let them warm up for a few minutes.
For the jalapeño cheddar corn bread you’ll need:
- vegetable oil
- 1 jalapeño, diced (including seeds and ribs)
- 1/8 cup diced onion
- 1/2 cup frozen or fresh corn
- 1 cup corn meal
- 1 cup flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
Corn bread directions:
- Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Saute onion and jalapeño together in a little bit of vegetable oil until the onion becomes translucent.
- Mix jalapeño, onion, corn, corn meal, flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and cheese together in a bowl.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together egg, sour cream, milk and butter.
- Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon until well combined.
- Fill the batter into a greased 10-inch diameter cast iron pan and bake for about 25 minutes.