Slow Cook

West Village Beef Stew

April 19, 2011
Author Notes

When I lived in New York City years ago, one of our favorite dinner places was a tiny Brazilian restaurant on a side street in Greenwich Village, a few short blocks west of Sixth Avenue. They had seating for only about 12 or 14 people, if that many. When you walked into the place, you knew from the gorgeous smells that dinner was going to be outstanding. And it was, without fail. One of my favorites was a beef stew, reminiscent of Beef Bourguignon, but with something special. The secret ingredient? Coffee!! It was always served with braised greens (collards, I think) and a bowl of black beans that had been cooked slowly with garlic, onions and a bit of bacon. I’ve since learned that many Brazilian stews have the beans cooked in them. As one who likes to stir things together as the spirit moves me, I prefer leaving the components separate. This is a pretty good replication of the fragrant stew that was leisurely and graciously served in that magical place. I serve it with lightly sautéed chard and (now) WinnieAb’s Simple Seasoned Adzuki Beans -- my new go-to bean for meals like this -- on the side. Enjoy!! ;o) - AntoniaJames —AntoniaJames

Test Kitchen Notes

AntoniaJames' Brazilian-inspired beef stew was enthusiastically received by our panel of testers, as much for the intoxicating aromas that filled the kitchen as for its welcoming flavors. We began preparing this in the late afternoon, first pouring a glass of the lovely Cotes du Rhone we were using in the recipe, and then working at a leisurely pace through directions that are so precise and well thought out it was like having a extra guiding hand in the kitchen. (To wit: I have a tendency to overcook my stews; this time, thanks to her guidance, the meat was tender and juicy, much to the delight of the Spouse). In all, a wonderful addition to our repertoire! - wssmom —wssmom

  • Serves 4, generously
  • 1 ½ pounds chuck eye roast, cut into 1 ½ inch cubes (See note below.)

  • Dry rub consisting of:

  • ** ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper (black is also fine)
  • ** ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ** 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • ** ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • Grapeseed or olive oil or bacon fat for browning
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 ¼ cups strong decaf coffee (1 cup for braising, ¼ cup for finishing)
  • ¾ cup red wine (I use a Burgundy or Cotes du Rhone for this.)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 three-inch pieces of celery
  • A pinch of red pepper flakes, or to taste (optional)
  • ½ cup rich chicken stock (reduce ordinary stock, if necessary)
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1” slices
  • 1 tablespoon sweet butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • ½ cup of coarsely chopped parsley
  • Juice of 2 limes (See note below.)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
In This Recipe
  1. Pat dry and rub the meat well with the spice and salt mixture at least twenty minutes before you plan to start cooking.
  2. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
  3. Brown the meat in two or three batches in a Dutch oven. Remove the meat and pour off the juices into the bowl with the meat.
  4. Cook the onions over medium heat, adding a bit more fat if necessary, until translucent. Then add the garlic and cook, stirring, for about twenty seconds.
  5. Push the onions and garlic aside and cook the tomato paste in the bald spot in the pan for about thirty seconds, or until it appears dry. Then deglaze the pan with the wine, still over medium heat.
  6. Add one cup of the coffee, the bay leaves, celery, red pepper flakes, if using, and stock, with a good pinch of salt, and stir well to combine. Add the meat to the pot, then cover it tightly and place in the middle of the oven.
  7. Cook, without lifting the lid, for about an hour and a half.
  8. Test the meat. If it comes apart easily with a light jab of your fork, take the pot out of the oven. If it doesn’t, sample a tiny bite. Is it tender and juicy? If not, let it cook for another fifteen minutes, then test it again. If it’s still not done, cover, return to the oven, and test again every fifteen minutes until it is. It’s easy to overcook a beef braise, so take care.
  9. Remove the meat and onions from the sauce immediately. Add the carrots to the sauce and cook briskly over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until just tender. Then add the remaining coffee and turn off the heat.
  10. Knead the butter and flour together in a small bowl until thoroughly combined. Whisk it into the sauce a bit at a time off the heat, then return the pot to the heat and cook for a minute or two until thickened.
  11. Discard the celery pieces and bay leaves, then stir in the parsley and some freshly ground pepper. Return the meat and vegetables to the pot, add the lime juice, and give it a good stir.
  12. Enjoy!! ;o)
  13. N.B. It's important -- especially to prevent the beef from drying out -- not to cut the pieces too small. They'll get smaller with cooking, so don't be afraid to cut them into really large chunks (even 2" or more). It will be so tender that even if the meat ends up being larger than bite-sized, it can easily be cut with a fork. Also, use a good, marbled cut of beef, for the juiciest, tastiest stew..
  14. If making this ahead of time, remove the meat from the sauce to let the sauce cool before returning the meat to it for storage. If you don’t, the meat will continue to cook, to the detriment of the stew.
  15. I used two very small limes, so you may only need one medium or large one. The lime juice cuts the sweetness of the caramelized tomato paste, carrots and onions. Add a bit, stir the stew and taste. Then add more, to taste, if necessary.
  16. I recommend decaf, because I'm sensitive to caffeine, especially at night. If that's not a problem and you prefer to use regular coffee, please feel free to do so. ;o)

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  • wssmom
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Recipe by: AntoniaJames

When I'm not working (negotiating transactions for internet companies), or outside enjoying the gorgeous surroundings here in the San Francisco Bay Area, I'm likely to be cooking, shopping for food, planning my next culinary experiment, or researching, voraciously, whatever interests me. In my kitchen, no matter what I am doing -- and I actually don't mind cleaning up -- I am deeply grateful for having the means to create, share with others and eat great food. Life is very good. ;o)