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Cooking

Persian and Argentine beef stew

The beef stew recipe uses fruit to add flavor.

Serve Persian-Style Beef Stew With Prunes alongside rice.

Jim Scherer for the boston globe

Serve Persian-Style Beef Stew With Prunes alongside rice.

TIP Chop the prunes that are going to dissolve into the stew and then quarter the rest.

PERSIAN-STYLE BEEF STEW WITH PRUNES

Serves 6

1½ cups pitted prunes

3 to 3½ pounds beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1-inch chunks

Salt and pepper

1 tablespoon flour

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 cinnamon sticks

1½ cups orange juice

4 large carrots, bias-cut into ½-inch-thick coins

¼ teaspoon crumbled saffron threads

1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley

Hot cooked basmati rice, for serving

Chop half the prunes and quarter the other half; set aside separately. Use paper towels to dry the beef; in a medium bowl, toss it with 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper and flour to coat. In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, heat 2 teaspoons oil until it shimmers. Add half the beef (pieces should not touch) and cook undisturbed until deeply browned, about 3½ minutes. Turn and cook until second side is deeply browned, about 3½ minutes; transfer to a clean bowl. Add 2 teaspoons of oil to the pot, heat for a moment, and cook remaining beef (reducing heat if drippings burn); transfer to same bowl.

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Reduce the heat to medium, add 2 teaspoons of oil and saute the onion with 1 teaspoon salt until just softened, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cinnamon sticks, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 45 seconds. Add the orange juice, adjust heat to high, and with a wooden spoon scrape bottom of pan to loosen and dissolve the fond, about 1 minute. Add 1 cup water, the chopped prunes, and the beef with accumulated juices; submerge in the liquid, bring to a boil, reduce heat to very low, cover, and simmer for 2 hours. Add the carrots, quartered prunes, and 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper and simmer, covered, until the beef and carrots are tender, about 30 minutes longer. In a bowl, mix saffron with 2 tablespoons hot water. Stir into stew and cook 5 minutes longer.

Remove cinnamon sticks. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, if necessary. Add most of the parsley, stir to combine, and serve with rice, sprinkling each portion with remaining parsley.

Variation

PERSIAN-STYLE BEEF AND APPLE STEW

TIP: Chop the prunes that are going to dissolve into the stew and then quarter the rest.

TIP: Chop the prunes that are going to dissolve into the stew and then quarter the rest.

Follow the directions for the Persian-style Beef Stew With Prunes, making the following changes:

1) Reduce beef to 2½ to 3 pounds. Omit the flour and cook beef 3 minutes per side.

2) Omit the prunes, carrots, and saffron. Reduce the cinnamon sticks to 1 and add 1 bay leaf. Omit the orange juice and use 3¼ cups of water. Simmer covered for 45 minutes, add ½ cup yellow split peas, replace cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until beef is tender and peas mostly dissolved, about 1½ hours longer.

3) Meanwhile, peel and core 4 Golden Delicious apples and cut them into 1-inch wedges. In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon butter until melted and hot. When the bubbling subsides, add half the apples and cook until light golden, about 4 minutes, turning halfway through cooking. Remove to a bowl and repeat with more butter and remaining apples. Add the apples, 2½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice, 3 tablespoons light brown sugar, and 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper to the stew, stir gently to mix, and simmer until apples are tender, about 10 minutes longer. Discard the cinnamon stick and bay leaf and season and serve as directed.

ARGENTINE-STYLE BEEF STEW WITH FRUIT (CARBONADA CRIOLLA)

Serves 6

Many carbonada recipes call for fresh peaches, but I use dried apricots — more practical for winter in New England — instead.

3½ to 4 pounds beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1½-inch chunks

Salt and black pepper

1 tablespoon flour

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 onions, chopped

1 large cubanelle pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons dried thyme

2 bay leaves

¾ cup dry white wine

1½ cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes

¾ cup dried apricots, finely chopped

½ butternut squash (about 1¼ pounds), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 medium (about 8 ounces each) sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 ripe but firm Bosc, Bartlett, or Anjou pears (about 1 pound), peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch pieces

6 scallions, thinly sliced

Use paper towels to dry the beef; in a medium bowl, toss it with 1 teaspoon each salt and black pepper and flour to coat. In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, heat 2 teaspoons oil until it shimmers. Add half the beef (pieces should not touch) and cook undisturbed until deeply browned, about 3½ minutes. Turn and cook until second side is deeply browned, about 3½ minutes; transfer to a clean bowl. Add 2 teaspoons of oil to the pot, heat for a moment, and cook remaining beef (reducing heat if drippings burn); transfer to same bowl.

Return the pot to burner, reduce heat to medium, add 2 more teaspoons of oil and heat for a moment. Add the onions, cubanelle pepper, and 1 teaspoon salt, and saute until just softened, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, and bay leaves, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 45 seconds. Add the wine, adjust heat to high, and with a wooden spoon scrape bottom of pan to loosen and dissolve the fond, about 1 minute. Add the broth, tomatoes, apricots, and beef with accumulated juices; submerge in the liquid, bring to a boil, reduce heat to very low, cover, and simmer for 1¾ hours. Add the squash and sweet potatoes, submerge them, adjust the heat to medium-high, and bring to a strong simmer. Adjust heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer 20 minutes. Add the pears and 1 teaspoon each salt and black pepper, and simmer, covered, until the beef, vegetables, and pears are tender, about 25 minutes longer.

Remove the bay leaves. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and black pepper, if necessary. Add most of the scallions, stir to combine, and serve, sprinkling each portion with remaining scallions.

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