Archive for the ‘Stews’ category

Ramja (kidney beans in a spicy tomato sauce)

May 14, 2020

Ramja is a Punjabi-inspired stew of kidney beans in a spicy tomato sauce, topped with mozzarella. It’s adapted from a NY Times magazine recipe. I like to serve it with white rice and/or a flatbread such as naan.

Preheat oven to 350o

1 large red onion, peeled
1-2 green chilis (serrano, jalapeño, etc) seeeded
1 TB oil
5 garlic cloves, peeled
1 inch piece ginger root, peeled
1 tsp red chili powder
big pinch powdered cinnamon
1 tsp cumin seeds
1-28 oz can crushed or diced tomatoes, not drained
2-15 oz cans kidney beans, drained or 4 c of home-cooked beans
1 c diced mozzarella
¼ c white wine vinegar or rice vinegar
¼ c water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 c chopped cilantro

Cut the onion into quarters lengthwise. Slice 1 piece thinly and set aside in a small bowl. Put the other 3 pieces in a blender (preferred) or food processor along with the oil, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, chili powder, and green chilis. Process until not-quite pureed. You may need to scrape down the bowl and/or add a bit of oil.

Heat 2 TB of oil in a heavy Dutch oven over medium heat and add the cumin seeds. Cook, stirring, until fragrant and lightly browned. Add the blended mixture and cook, stirring, for about 5 min until very fragrant and just starting to brown. Add beans and tomatoes and stir. Salt to taste and scatter the cheese over the top. Put, uncovered, in the oven and bake (without stirring) until bubbling and the cheese is lightly browned, 30-40 min

Dissolve the salt and sugar in the vinegar and water. Pour boiling water over the onion slices and drain after about 20 sec. Stir in the vinegar mixture. Serve, passing the onions and cilantro at the table.

Brunswick Stew

May 31, 2016

Brunswick stew apparently got its name from Brunswick County, Virginia, as an adaptation of Native American food. At its heart are meat and corn cooked together, and the meat was traditionally rabbit and/or squirrel. The recipe has changed over the years (although when I see the &$*&#&*# squirrels eating my birdseed I have other thoughts), and now usually uses chicken with an occasional addition of small amounts of pork side meat. And of course there are as many recipes as there are southern cooks. Here’s one I like. Serve with southern-style cornbread.

1 whole chicken cut into 8 pieces
A few chunks of carrot and celery, perhaps 1 c of each
1 large garlic clove halved
Big pinch salt
A few whole peppercorns

Put the chicken in a soup pot and cover with cold water. Add the other ingredients and bring to the simmer for 20 minutes. Cover, turn off heat, and let sit for another 20 minutes.Remove meat from pot. When it’s cool enough to handle, take the meat off the bones. Use your fingers to shred the the breast meat and set aside.Reserve the leg meat for chicken salad or some other use. Put all bones and skin back in the soup pot and simmer for another hour or so. Strain thru a fine colander and discard the solids. You should have about 8 c of stock, the exact amount is not critical. Set aside, skimming excess fat if needed.

1 large or 2 small baking potatoes
1 baseball-sized onion in large dice
2-9 oz packages frozen Lima beans, thawed and drained
2-14 oz cans creamed corn
2-14 oz cans diced tomatoes with juice

Peel the potatoes and cut into 1/2 inch dice. Cook in well-salted water until just barely tender. Drain and set aside.

Heat a little oil or bacon fat over medium heat in a Dutch oven  Cook onions and Lima beans for about 5 minutes, stirring, until the onion is translucent. Add the potatoes, corn, and tomatoes and stir for a moment.

The chicken stock
1/4 c hot sauce such as Frank’s or Texas Pete (avoid Tabasco)
1 TB salt
2 TB sugar
1/2 TB or more freshly ground black pepper

Add the above ingredients and simmer for 10 minutes.

The shredded chicken
1/2 stick butter

Add the chicken and butter and stir until the butter melts. Check for salt, pepper, and spiciness and adjust as desired. Enjoy!




Fesenjan (Persian chicken stew)

December 11, 2014

This delightful and unusual stew combines chicken with the flavors of pomegranates and walnuts. It is rich, sweet, and tangy, and its rich red color makes it an attractive dish to serve at a feast. The only specialized ingredient is pomegranate molasses, a syrupy concoction that is available at middle eastern and specialty markets, as well as on the web. This molasses has become a pantry staple for me. I rarely use it in such large amounts as this recipe calls for, but a tablespoon or two added to stews, soups, and the like it can add a layer of flavor and complexity that I often find welcome. I like to serve this stew over plain, long-grained white rice with a cucumber, yogurt, and mint salad.

8 boned, skinned chicken thighs
3 c shelled walnuts
1 medium onion, diced fine
1-1/2 c pomegranate molasses
3/4 c grated butternut squash or sweet potato (peeled)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Chicken stock as needed, 1 to 2 c
1/2 tsp saffron dissolved in 2 TB warm water (optional)
White sugar, as needed

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spread the walnuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and toast for 5-10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

While the walnuts are toasting, cut each chicken thigh in half. In a skillet, sauté in a bit of olive oil until lightly browned on both sides. Remove from heat and set aside.

When cool, put walnuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely ground, perhaps the size of cooked rice grains. Do not let it get pasty.

Put walnuts, onion, and 2 c water in a stew pot and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the squash or potato, molasses, chicken, cinnamon, saffron (if using), 1 c chicken stock, and a good pinch of salt. Simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes, stirring once in a while. Add more chicken stock if the mixture is getting too dry. At the end of 30 minutes, taste the stew and if necessary use small amounts of sugar, molasses, and/or salt to get the flavor where you want it. Simmer slowly for another 10-15 minutes and serve.

Turkish chick pea stew

January 17, 2013

This delicious dish can, with some good bread, make a meal in itself. It can also be a luxurious side dish for grilled lamb. The dish improves on sitting, so I suggest making it in the morning and reheating for dinner.

Note 1: Pomegranate molasses can be found in middle eastern markets. It has many uses and keeps essentially forever, it’s worth having on hand. Substitute 1/2 TB of brown sugar if needed.

Note 2: You may use two 14 oz cans of chick peas instead, but cooking your own gives better results.

1/2 lb dried chick peas
3 TB oil, preferably olive
2 onions, peeled and sliced into thin half-rings (1-1/2 to 2 c)
5 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 TB pomegranate molasses
1 TB white wine or sherry vinegar or lemon juice
1-14 oz can diced or crushed tomatoes
1/2 tsp sweet paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
4 oz raw spinach or kale
1/4 c each coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley and mint

Cook chick peas per package directions and drain, reserving liquid. Can be done a day ahead.

Toast cumin and fennel seeds in a dry saute pan until fragrant. Allow to cool then crush.

Wash greens and slice into 1 inch strips. If using kale, you may want to remove any tough ribs and stems first. Set aside.

Heat oil in a heavy saucepan and cook onions over medium high heat until soft. Add garlic and crushed seeds and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until onion starts to brown slightly, perhaps 5 minutes.

Lower heat. Add tomatoes with their juice, molasses, vinegar, paprika, and cayenne, simmer and stir for about 10 minutes. Add the chick peas, greens, and a big pinch of salt. Add enough bean cooking water to get the desired stew-like consistency. Simmer slowly, stirring now and then, for about 30 minutes.

Check for salt and add if needed. Stir in the chopped herbs and you’re done.

Chile con carne

April 25, 2011

My take on this wonderful dish, inspired by a visit to New Mexico. The chile powder makes all the difference, make sure you get a high quality product that contains just ground chilies. Some “supermarket” chili powders also contain cumin and other spices, but I’d rather add those myself. No, that’s not a spelling error, it is common (although not universal) for pure ground chile peppers to be called “chile” powder and the spice mix to be called “chili” powder.

If someone tells you that “real” chile con carne does not have beans or tomato in it, smile kindly and pat them on the head.

2 TB vegetable oil or bacon fat
1-1/2 lbs boneless chuck
1 c diced onion
1 c diced red and/or green bell peppers
4 cloves garlic minced
5-6 TB chili powder
2 tsp dried oregano, preferably Mexican
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2-16 oz cans diced tomatoes with juice
1/2 oz baking chocolate, chopped.
2 tsp sugar
2-16 oz cans pinto beans
1-16 oz can red kidney beans.

Trim the beef of fat and gristle and cut into 1 inch cubes. In 2 batches, zap in a food processor until minced but not ground. You might want to stop 5-10 seconds before you would if you were making hamburger.

Heat the oil over high heat in a heavy Dutch oven until smoking. Add the beef and stir until it loses its pink color. Don’t worry if the meat gives off some liquid. Add the chopped vegetables and reduce heat to medium high, Cook for a few minutes, stirring. Add the spices and stir for a minute or so. Add the tomatoes, chocolate, and sugar and stir. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour, adding water as necessary to maintain a medium-thick consistency. Add the drained beans and simmer for 1/2 hour. Correct salt and serve.

Catalan style beef stew

April 25, 2011

A marvelous, rich dish that is even better if you cook it a day ahead and then reheat.

2 lbs beef stewing meat, preferably chuck, cut into large cubes
4 TB olive oil
3 large carrots peeled and cut into 1″ sections
12 shallots, peeled and left whole
1-1/4 c pitted prunes
2 c hearty red wine such as a Rioja
1/2 c toasted pine nuts*

Season the beef with S&P. Pat dry then brown on all sides in the olive oil in a heavy casserole. Reduce heat and add all remaining ingredients except the pine nuts. Cover and simmer slowly for 2 to 2-1/2 hours or until the meat is very tender, stirring occasionally. During the last hour, check the liquid level. If too low, add some water. If too high, increase heat slightly and leave the cover ajar. Serve sprinkled with the pine nuts.

* To toast, put the pine nuts in a dry 6 inch skillet over medium heat. Stir or toss frequently until they are golden brown color. You need to watch this closely because the pine nuts can go from underdone to burnt very quickly.

Chicken and dumplings

April 21, 2011

This is real comfort food for many people, myself included.

One 2.5 – 3 lb chicken
2 celery stalks, cleaned and cut into 1/2″ slices
Carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2″ slices, about 1 cup
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 medium onion, peeled and cut into dice about the same size as the celery and carrots
1 cup frozen peas
4 TB butter
2 TB all-purpose flour

The dumplings:

2 c cake flour (preferred) or all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 TB butter, melted
3/4 c milk
1/4 c minced fresh herbs such as parsley or sage, or 1 TB dry herbs

Remove giblets from the chicken and put the chicken in a pot that’s not too much wider than the chicken. Add just enough water to cover and a big pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, skimming any foam that collects, then cover and simmer until done, about 40 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pot and, when cool enough to handle, remove and shred the meat into bite-size pieces. Return the bones and skin to the pot and simmer for another 30 minutes. Strain stock into a bowl, skim off the fat, and discard the solids.

In a wide, shallow pan with a close-fitting cover (I like to use a rectangular electric skillet), melt the butter over medium high heat and add the celery, carrots, onion, and mushrooms. Cook, stirring now and then, for about 5 minutes until the veggies just start to brown. Reduce heat to medium and sprinkle in the 2 TB flour. Stir until the flour is all incorporated. Add about 1.5 quarts of the chicken stock and stir, then cover and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 30 min.

While the veg are cooking, prepare the dumplings. Thoroughly mix the flour, salt, and baking powder. Add the butter, milk, and herbs and stir with a wooden spoon until all the flour is incorporated. You’ll end up with a sticky, shaggy dough. Do not overmix, this can lead to tough dumplings. Set aside.

When the veg are done, stir in the chicken, peas, several grindings of black pepper, and more salt if needed. Return to a simmer. Add more stock if you like (extra stock can be frozen). Using 2 spoons, drop the dumpling dough by generous tablespoons onto the surface of the simmering stew, leaving about an inch between. Cover tightly and maintain a simmer for 15 minutes without lifting the cover. Remove a dumpling and test it to be sure it is done. If not, cover and simmer for another 5 min. Serve hot.

Variation: Increase the amounts of celery, carrots, and mushrooms by about half. Use only half of the chicken meat, reserving the remainder for another use.

Cuban black beans

April 21, 2011

Serve over white rice with fried plantains, a salad, and cold beer. Omit the meat for a vegetarian version.

1 lb dried black beans
1/2 lb or so smoked pork neck bones or a ham hock.
1 large white onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, seeds removed, sliced thinly
1 TB wine vinegar
2 TB olive or other oil
4 bay leaves
Salt & pepper

Rinse the beans and soak overnight if desired. There’s no need to soak, however. If you do not the beans will just take a bit longer to cook.

In a large Dutch over, sauté both peppers, the garlic, and the onions  in the oil until wilted. Add the beans, the vinegar,  and enough water to just cover (if you soaked your beans) or to cover by a couple of inches (if not soaked). Add some grindings of black pepper. If not using the neck bones, add 1 tsp salt (the bones are quite salty). Bury the neck bones and bay leaves in the beans and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook until the beans are done, stirring once in a while and making sure the water level does not go below the top of the beans.

When the beans are quite soft (1-1/2 to 2 hours appx) remove the neck bones and bay leaves. Take any meat off the bones and reserve. Use an immersion blender or other method to mash/puree about 1/4 of the beans. Stir the reserved meat back into the beans and check for salt. Simmer for another 30 minutes and serve.

Posole (Mexican pork and hominy stew)

April 21, 2011

The authentic version uses a whole pig’s head, but when I asked for that at the local market I got a really weird look from the butcher. Even without the pig head, this one is pretty darned good, rich with the flavor or roasted peppers. Serves 4-6, may be doubled.


5-6 fresh poblano peppers
1 lb pork shoulder in 3/4 inch cubes
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried Mexican oregano
1 tsp, more or less, red pepper flakes
2-16 ounce cans hominy, drained


Sliced radishes
Chopped onion
Chopped cilantro
Baked tortilla strips

Roast the peppers over charcoal or a gas flame until charred, then let sweat in a paper bag for 15 min. Remove skin and seeds and chop coarsely. You should have a cup or so.

In a Dutch oven, brown the pork in a little vegetable oil or lard, doing it in 2 batches if necessary. Add the onion, garlic, cumin, oregano, and pepper flakes and cook, stirring, for a few minutes. Add water to just cover and simmer for 30 min. Add hominy and peppers and simmer, covered, for another 90 min. Add water as needed to keep the ingredients just covered. Salt to taste. Serve in soup bowls with garnishes.

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