Saturday, December 6, 2014

Beef Cheek, Pumpkin, and Chickpea Stew

Nothing's better, when it's cold outside, than curling up on the sofa with a bowl of spicy tagine, a well-paired red wine, and an equally compatible loved-one. Stewing is my favourite wintery cooking method. As the braising aroma fills the air, your kitchen slowly heats the house, and when the sun sets and company arrives, you can enjoy the taste of patience. Slow cooked beef-cheek, pumpkin, dates, and chickpeas were the main components of this stew; but the real winner was the slow-cooked tomato-y beef broth that collected around the edges of the bowl. It had reduced so long in the dutch-oven that it transformed into a beef jus meets sweet aged balsamic vinegar deal...
I didn't follow this recipe, but the idea is the same. Just feel it out as you go. I love adding lots of dried fruit because it's unexpected and tastes really exciting. If you like your stews saltier or richer, up the salt or umami factor. Remember though, with salt, always season at the end of cooking. You can always add salt, but it's hard to take it back; and, adding more liquid to dilute an over-salty stew will un-do the richness you've previously built in with time.

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