Is there anything better than a big pot of comforting beef stew in the Winter? Maybe if you add a lot of veggies, Middle Eastern spices, and some apricots for sweetness. Yum, yum, yum. At least I thought so - my husband wasn't really sold on the whole sweet things in a stew concept, and he doesn't like all those vegetables getting in the way of his meat. But whatever, I thought it was awesome. If you are not limiting carbs, you could serve this over some couscous and let it soak up all the juices.
Start by cooking some red onion and browning some beef chuck that has been seasoned with cumin, ginger, and cinnamon. I feel like red onions only work well in specific places, and this is one of them. Cooking them enough that they start to caramelize and release some sweetness is the way to go, here. Remove the meat to a plate temporarily and deglaze the pot with some red wine to scrape up all those browned spices and good bits that are stuck to the bottom.
Add in some sweet potato, apricots, and a can of whole tomatoes in their juices; then add enough water to cover and let simmer for a few hours. Your house is going to smell AWESOME. For reals.
After it is done simmering and the meat and potatoes are all soft and luscious - throw in some chickpeas and spinach. Oh my gosh. There is so much going on here! The apricots absorb the liquid and plump up, and the sweetness from them and the sweet potatoes contrasts the warm spices. I love all the different colors and textures, too. Let's get cooking, peeps!
Spiced Beef and Sweet Potato Stew
*I made double the recipe so that I could share with my neighbors, so your pot won't be quite as full as mine.
adapted from Real Simple
1 1/2 lbs beef chuck, cut into chunks
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp olive oil, plus more as needed
1 large red onion, sliced
1/2 cup red wine
2 sweet potatoes (1 lb), cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges
1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes (look for plum tomatoes, San Marzano, or "Italian style")
1/2 cup dried apricots
1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 cups baby spinach (1 1/2 oz)
Season the beef with salt and pepper, then toss with the spices.
Heat olive oil in a dutch oven or heavy pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until starting to caramelize, about 10-15 minutes, remove to a plate. Add in the beef in batches (don't crowd the pot) and brown on all sides, adding more oil as needed and removing to the plate with the onions.
Add the red wine and scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to deglaze. Return the beef and onions to the pot and add the sweet potatoes, tomatoes (with their juices), and apricots. Add enough water to just cover the meat. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, then cover and let cook for 2 hours. Don't fuss with it, just leave it alone.
Remove the lid and check that the meat and potatoes are tender. Then add in the chickpeas and spinach to warm through.