Saturday, May 2, 2015


The tomato seedlings were becoming leggy, past time to plant them out in the garden. Forced by circumstances to make room in the garden, I pulled out all the kale and chard from the winter garden, washed, blanched and bagged them for freezing.

Then I looked in the freezer. I found a couple bags of last year’s fava beans and I’m picking fresh ones now and may freeze the surplus. Still have lots of green beans, which is fine, because new crop is more than a month away. And, what’s this? A hunk of stewing beef stashed in the freezer for an intended beef stock.

Slow-cooked chunks of beef and two kinds of sausages in this stew.

Stew served as a tapa.

It’s definitely time to finish the stewing season, before hot weather arrives, so I’m making a rustic beef stew from Toledo, with the curious name of carcamusas. Supposedly the name was invented in a bar in Toledo, where the stew is still a favorite tapa dish.

Morcillo is beef shin, a cut full of flavor, but needing long, slow cooking to tenderize it (morcilla is blood sausage, used in this stew). The stew improves if prepared a day in advance and reheated. You can, if desired, skim off the fat that congeals on top. Cook the potatoes and peas separately and add them to the stew when it is reheated.

I'm using fresh peas from the garden for this stew, but the peas will soon give way to pepper plants. And, as I set out those little tomato plants, I'm imagining a surplus so that I can freeze some for the next stew season.

Rustic Beef Stew with Sausages

Fresh peas add a touch of spring to this beef stew.
Serves 6.

2 ¼ pounds boneless stewing beef, such as shin or shank
3 tablespoons + 1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped green pepper
1 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 ½ cups peeled and chopped tomatoes
1 cup white wine
¼ teaspoon peppercorns
1 teaspoon salt
1 bay leaf
¼ cup diced serrano ham or bacon
6 ounces chorizo
6 ounces morcilla sausage (optional)
1 cup fresh or frozen peas, par-boiled
1 roasted red pimiento, cut in strips (1/3 cup)
1 pound potatoes, cut in 1-inch cubes and cooked
3 cloves sliced garlic
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon smoked pimentón (paprika)

Cut the beef into 1-inch cubes. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a heavy pan over high heat. When oil is smoking, add the beef. Allow it to brown on one side, 2 minutes, then turn the meat. Add the green pepper, onion, and chopped garlic. Fry on high heat 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and fry 2 minutes.

Add the wine and 1 cup of water. Season with peppercorns, salt, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat so the stew just simmers. Cook 1 hour.

Add the ham, chorizo, and morcilla, if using. Bring again to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until beef is very tender, about 45 minutes more.

Add the peas, strips of pimiento and potatoes. Cook, uncovered, 10 minutes.

Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a small skillet. Add the sliced garlic, red pepper flakes, and oregano and fry until garlic is golden. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the pimentón plus 3 tablespoons of liquid from the stew.

Slice the chorizo and morcilla (kitchen shears work well). Serve the stew, sausage, and cooked potatoes with the fried garlic mixture drizzled on top.

A glass of robust red wine goes best with this rustic stew.

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