Mediterranean Beef Stew
Serves 4 to 6.
Note: You can cook this on top of your stove, if you prefer, rather than in the oven. Adjust the heat so the aromatic stewing liquid is just barely simmering. Or, after you brown the meat, pour everything into your slow cooker and simmer for a few hours until tender. Capers are the flower bud of a Mediterranean bush; typically they are pickled in a brine. Find them among bottled olives in the supermarket. From "Chef Michael Smith's Kitchen," by Michael Smith.
• 2 tbsp. olive oil
• 2 lb. beef stew meat, cut into 1-in. cubes, patted dry
• 4 onions, sliced
• 8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
• 1 (28-oz.) can chopped tomatoes
• 1 tbsp. dried oregano
• 1 c. kalamata olives, pitted and halved
• 1 tbsp. drained capers (see Note)
• Zest and juice of 1 lemon
• 1 bunch parsley, chopped
• Few sprinkles of salt and lots of freshly ground pepper
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Splash oil into a Dutch oven or a stew pot with a tight-fitting lid. Heat oil over medium-high heat until it's hot but not smoking. Patiently brown beef in several batches, taking care not to crowd the pot. Adjust heat as needed to keep the meat sizzling and browning.
Transfer each batch of browned meat to a plate. After you've removed the last batch of meat, toss the onions and garlic in the pot and sauté until they're golden brown and aromatic, about 10 minutes.
Return browned beef to the pot. Stir in the tomatoes and oregano. Bring to a boil, then cover tightly and transfer to your oven. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until meat is tender, about 1 hour. A few minutes before serving, stir in olives, capers, lemon zest, lemon juice, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste.