This is my favourite way to eat beef, meltingly soft, fruity and fragrant, rich yet comforting- this is the ultimate stew. It may seem odd to post a stew in summer, but in this weird summer of discontent that has broken out (thunderstorms & brexit!!!) I felt that there was a need for something warming and comforting. A dish that requires a group of people to all sit down around a pot of delicious food and share in conversation, wine & indeed the contents of the pot. The pomegranate lifts the beef to something sweet & exotic, yet comforting familiar, this is one of my favourite dishes- and hopefully will be yours too.
1 kg boneless grass-fed braising beef, cut into 1+1/2 inch cubes
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
4 large red onions, peeled and thinly sliced
6 cloves garlic, crushed
1 fresh cinnamon stick & 2 star anise
Fresh Thyme, a handful, picked
the stalks of 1/4 bunch of coriander, finely sliced
430ml unsweetened pure pomegranate juice
280ml good gelatinous beef stock
Preheat your oven to 150˚C
If you buy nicely marbled meat, there should be no need to put oil in the pan before you sear the meat, however feel free to add some if you think it necessary.
Heat a large heavy based lidded pot (le cresuet, if you have or similar) and brown the meat in batches removing with a slotted spoon or tongs onto a plate and set to one side. Once the meat is browned and removed, add the oil and then the onions to the pot. Turn the heat right down and sweat the onions for 6-8 minutes or so until translucent. If, at any point, your pot is a little over brown and parched, add a tbsp water which will help release the sediment and quickly scrape it off and incorporate into the onions before the moisture is evaporated.
When the onions are nice and soft, add the garlic and coriander stems, and cook another minute or two. Now stir in the spices and herbs and cook for one more minute. Pour in the pomegranate juice, stirring the sediment from the bottom of the pan into the mixture, followed by the broth and the browned meat. Make sure the meat is covered by the liquid. Turn the heat up, bring the stew to a simmer, put the lid on and place into the oven.
Cook for 3 + 1/2 hours, or until the meat is beautifully tender. Check it mid way to make sure it isn’t drying out at all. Remove the meat with a slotted spoon (or set a colander over a large bowl and strain the mixture that way) and put the liquor back on the heat, adding the maple syrup and pomegranate juice. Bring it up to the boil and reduce by half until thickened and glossy. . Add salt to taste. Remove the cinnamon sticks and then return the meat to the pan and stir well to incorporate. Reheat until the meat is falling apart.