Overnight beef stew
This thick and warm meal is the perfect cold-weather comfort food.
What am I cooking this weekend? Overnight beef stew – that solid, comforting, cold-weather lunch.
This dish can be assembled in minutes and has almost everything you need in it: protein, starch, fat.
The rare times I make this dish in the summer, I keep it light. The basic combination of meat, potatoes and barley goes into the pot, but instead of beef I use dark turkey meat, and leave out the beans until winter returns. I like to add plenty of spices and some olive oil, as otherwise the turkey will taste bland. Sweet potatoes make a foil to the sharp spices and combine deliciously with the wine that makes up the liquid. Here’s the recipe.
- 2 onions, sliced thickly
- 2 large bay leaves
- 1/2 head of garlic (or an entire one if the cloves are small) – washed but not peeled
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 small chili pepper or 4 black peppercorns (in which case don’t use any ground pepper)
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme or sage
- 2 pounds beef or 2 pounds skinless dark turkey meat (best to use large pieces)
- 4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into halves (no smaller, or they will disintegrate)
- 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into thirds
- 3/4 cup pearl barley, rinsed
- 3-5 whole eggs, shells rinsed
- 1 cup canned chickpeas
- Olive oil to cover the bottom of the pot (plenty, to compensate for fatless turkey)
- Black pepper to taste (I grind about 6 turns over the pot)
- Water to cover everything
- Optional and very good: Use all dry red wine instead of water, or half wine, half water. Or add beer to the water.
Over a low flame, heat the olive oil in the cooking pot. Add all the dry spices except salt and ground black pepper.
Heat the spices gently for 1 minute. Add the sliced onions.
Fry the onions until soft, turning them over a few times.
Add the turkey meat. Raise the flame to medium and let the turkey brown on all sides. Add the soy sauce.
Add the potatoes.
Add the chickpeas.
Add the barley.
Add the salt and pepper.
Add water/wine to cover the meat and barley. The potatoes will stick out – that’s fine. They’ll develop a delicious chewy crust overnight. Poke around the stew to make sure that the liquid drains down. Stop adding liquid when it covers the meat and barley by an inch.
Nestle the eggs in around the meat and potatoes.
Cover the pot and bring the stew to a low boil. Allow it to cook for 30 minutes. The stew is now ready to be placed on a hot-plate to continue cooking overnight. It won’t hurt to keep it simmering for several hours either. It has to be hot when you put it on the hot-plate, in any case.
The old-country way is to put the pot, tightly covered, in a low oven all night. I prefer it this way myself. The flavor is finer when the stew is baked instead of steamed all night. After cooking for 18 hours, the stew is a rich, golden brown.
When serving, put the meat in a platter and the soupy potatoes and barley in a deep bowl. Eggs should also have their own bowl. Some people like to put the whole pot on the table and serve that way, but this way everybody gets only what they like.
Always serve a colorful leafy salad with vinaigrette dressing (lettuce, arugula, cherry tomatoes, sliced bell peppers), to lighten and balance the meal. A refreshing side dish is sliced cucumbers with no dressing but a sprinkling of salt.
Related Topics: Meat and Poultry