Despite the fact that I have far too much to do at work, I try very hard to take one day off a week. I need it for my sanity, but also so that I can clean my house and cook for the week. While I detest the cleaning I have fun with the cooking, and I try to make one complicated or completely novel dish, as Sunday is also one of only two days a week in which I get to have dinner with my boyfriend.
My boyfriend does the shopping, as I never get out of work on time. Every week I write him a list, and every week he promptly forgets it at home and goes on to buy a random assortment of things. Unless I have to prepare a specific dish this doesn’t annoy me, but rather forces me to be creative, flick through my cookbooks and keep it interesting.
Last week, my complicated dish was chinese panfried dumplings, which were great. The week before that it was cornetti (i.e. the Italian version of the croissant), which were a complete disaster. This week I went for something that was not so much complicated as completely novel: a mexican beef stew prepared with beer and chocolate.
More info, recipes and pictures below the fold
My boyfriend came home with some beef that is far too tough, so I knew that I had to either mince it or stick it in the slow cooker. I started flipping through cookbooks for ideas, and I came across a beef chili in my Mexican cookbook. While I know that cooking savory dishes with chocolate is not uncommon in Mexico, it is unheard of in Italy, and I have never even eaten anything savory with chocolate in it before. Well, can’t knock it till you try it, right? So, here is the recipe, with my modifications.
- 650gr beef (modification: 500gr of beef and 6 large mushrooms… they were looking old)
- 30gr of bacon fat (modification: trimmed off the excess fat from the beef and used that)
- 2 large onions
- 4 minced cloves of garlic (modification: crap I’m out of garlic… one clove then)
- 1 tablespoon of cumin seeds
- 2 teaspoons of paprika
- 1 tablespoon of origano
- 4 dried red chillies
- 115gr dark, bitter chocolate
- 1 large bottle of mexican beer (modification: approx. 300mL of German beer: have to keep the liquids to a minimum in slow cookers, and I had a German beer in the fridge).
- toast the cumin seeds for 3-4 minutes, then crush them
- cube the beef and dust it with salted flour
- melt the bacon (or whatever) fat in a pan and brown the beef
- remove the beef and add the onions, garlic (and mushrooms) and let them cook for a few minutes
- add the spices, then tip it all into a pot with most of the beer, the beef and the chocolate, and cook on low heat until the beef is tender (or, in my case, stick it all in a slow cooker and cook on high for 4 hours)
The result? Not bad! That’s not at all what I expected it to taste like. I might be sold on this savory dark chocolate thing! This will be good with a bit of rice.
As for the rest of his shopping, and a few things in the fridge that needed cooking before they went bad, they all became
A classic Romanian chicken leg and potato soup/stew
Roasted chicken thighs with peppers, zucchini and olives
Grilled endive and cime di rapa ripassati
Fennel and onion gratin with bacon
Total cooking time: 3 hours, plus an extra hour for the slow cooker to do it’s thing.
Wow, that was quick! Which means that I’m going to need to spend more time cleaning the house, aren’t I? Dammit…