Author Notes: Güveç are stews of meat, chicken, or vegetables baked in a clay dish or pot (also called a güveç). In much of eastern Turkey cooks carry their güveç to the neighborhood bread bakery to cook in the stone oven. This stew is inspired by one I ate on a rainy lunchtime at a cafe in Selim, a tiny farm town about 45 minutes away from Kars.
This is a dish to make when you have a few hours at home but don't want to spend them in the kitchen. It's truly hands-off—place a few ingredients in the pot and put it in the oven, uncovered, for several hours. As the liquid reduces and the meat gets tender, the various elements meld into a complex whole. Toward the end of cooking, as the sauce evaporates, the meat and vegetables begin to brown, adding another layer of flavor. The stew cooks at 425°F; the high heat duplicates that of eastern Turkey's wood-fired stone ovens.
Like any stew, this tastes better when made ahead. Serve with good sturdy bread to mop up the juices.
Excerpted from Istanbul & Beyond by Robyn Eckhardt (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). Copyright © 2017. —Food52
Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 4 hrs 30 min
pounds boneless beef chuck, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
large onion, coarsely chopped
garlic cloves (or to taste), coarsely chopped
small carrot, peeled and grated
large tomatoes, cut into eighths
or 6 medium green anaheim chiles, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
large eggplant, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
cup plus 3 tablespoons sweet or hot Turkish pepper paste or tomato paste, or a combination
teaspoons fine sea salt
- Place a rack in the middle of the oven (or in the lower third, if the size of your pot requires it) and heat the oven to 425°F.
- Spread the meat over the bottom of a large Dutch oven or other heavy ovenproof pot. Spread the onion, garlic, and carrot over the meat, then add the rest of the vegetables.
- Combine the water, pepper and or tomato pastes, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl, stirring to dissolve the paste. Pour over the stew ingredients. Place the pot over high heat and bring the liquid to a boil; do not stir. Transfer the pot to the oven and cook the stew, uncovered, until the liquid reduces by one-half to two-thirds and the meat is tender, about 3 1/2 hours; stir once after about 1 1/2 hours. If after the 3 1/2 hours all of the ingredients are still submerged in liquid, raise the heat to 450°F and cook until some of the ingredients are exposed and beginning to brown, 20 to 30 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, cover, and allow to rest for 30 minutes before serving hot, or let the stew cool in the pot before refrigerating or freezing.
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