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Author Notes: This recipe is inspired by three dishes: The Silver Palate’s Chicken Marbella, Galbijjim (Korean Braised Beef Short Ribs) which a friend brought to share at our Thanksgiving celebration, and the lemon zest flecked dates in Amanda Hesser’s Yogurt with Toasted Quinoa, Dates and Almonds.
Chicken Marbella is my picky son’s favorite celebratory dish, even though he does not eat the prunes. I thought dates could fill a similar sweet-savory role and decided to pair them with beef, as in Galbijjim. I love the combination of lemon zest with dates, which I discovered in Amanda Hesser’s recipe (after a dish she had at Sitka & Spruce in Seattle).
I use wine here, but you can also use beer, which results in a lighter dish. If you want to go the beer route, I recommend a Belgian ale.
You can put this together leisurely on Friday night and enjoy it on Sunday for supper. Or, to speed up the process, you can start Saturday early morning and let it sit all day in the fridge, braise in the evening, let it cool, refrigerate Saturday night, finish and enjoy Sunday evening.
For dates and marinade
- 1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 9 whole Medjool Dates, seed and hard stem cap removed
- 1 teaspoon Korean chile flakes (gochugaru) can substitute crushed red pepper (note: since gochugaru flakes are finer and sweeter than crushed red pepper, you can start with ½ t crushed red pepper, if desired)
- 1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seed
- 2 whole black cardamom pods
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled
- 4 roots plus 1 inch of stem from organic cilantro (if not organic, use enough 1-inch pieces of stem to roughly equal 2 T)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons gluten-free tamari (can substitute soy sauce)
- 1 tablespoon Korean chile paste (gochu-jang)
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 2 pounds beef for braising, such as bottom round or chuck roast, cut into 1-inch cubes (trimmed if using chuck)
- Heat oil in 8” skillet over medium heat. Add dates and sauté until opaque on each side and skin starts to curl. Be careful not to burn.
- Turn off heat, add chile, cumin, cardamom pods and a pinch of salt. Fold mixture together in pan using a heat proof spatula.
- Remove pan from heat and let mixture cool completely.
- Use a mortar and pestle to mash garlic, cilantro roots/stems and a pinch of salt into a uniform paste. Add paste to a medium sized bowl, scraping with a small spatula to get it all out.
- Add the next five ingredients (tamari through sesame oil) to bowl and stir mixture.
- Carefully slice cooled dates in half lengthwise and then crosswise into thirds. Add dates to bowl, making sure to get all the oil and spices from the skillet.
- Add cubed beef, and using spatula or clean hands, incorporate ingredients together to coat meat. Cover bowl with saran wrap and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
For braise and finishing
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 cups medium bodied, fruity, red wine that you like to drink - I used an Argentinean Malbec
- water, as needed
- 1 pound new or baby yellow potatoes, halved if using baby potatoes, cut into inch chunks (can substitute Yukon gold)
- 1/2 pound daikon, hakurei turnip, scarlet Ohno turnip, pink radish or a mixture, cut into inch chunks
- 6 scallions, white and light green parts, cut into 1-inch lengths and sliced lengthwise
- 1 Meyer lemon, organic if possible (can substitute organic Eureka lemon)
- Heat oven to 325 ˚F
- Heat oil in a Dutch oven or similarly heavy large pot over medium heat. Using tongs, cook the beef cubes in batches (leaving dates in bowl – avoid adding to pot at this point); do not overcrowd. Cook, turning the beef to brown on all sides, about 4 minutes per batch, and remove to a plate when browned.
- When all beef is browned on out of the pot, add a splash of wine (about ¼ cup) to deglaze and with a wooden spoon, scrape the bottom to loosen any browned bits.
- Add onions to pot with a pinch of salt and cook, stirring, until softened, about 4 minutes.
- Add browned meat, remaining marinade from bowl (including dates) and wine. Liquid should just cover meat and onions. Bring to a simmer, cover and place pot in oven. Braise for 2 hours, checking at the 1 hour mark and again at 1 ½ hour mark to make sure there is enough liquid. Add water as necessary to keep meat just covered.
- Remove pot from oven and uncover to let stew cool before refrigerating in pot overnight.
- To finish stew, take pot out of refrigerator and remove as much of the congealed fat layer from the surface of stew as desired. Depending on the cut of beef, the amount of congealed fat will vary.
- Heat stew over medium-low heat, adding potatoes and turnips/radishes.
- Cover and bring to a simmer. Allow stew to slowly bubble for another 45 minutes, until potatoes and turnips/radishes are tender.
- Serve stew in bowls with or without rice. Top with sliced scallions and lemon zest. Enjoy!
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Recipe with Dates