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Mediterranean Beef Ragout

Updated February 23, 2016
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Succulent peppers, sweet or hot, are so much a part of Mediterranean cooking that it’s interesting to recall they are indigenous to North America and didn’t cross the Atlantic until Columbus brought them to Spain. Here they combine with cumin, olives and tomatoes to transform humble stewing beef into an Epicurean delight.

Substitute an equal quantity of lemon thyme for the thyme, if you prefer.

This produces a mildly flavored stew. If you like the taste of cumin, feel free to increase the quantity to as much as 2 tbsp (25 ml).

If you don’t have a mortar or a spice grinder, place the toasted cumin seeds on a cutting board and use the bottom of a wine bottle or measuring cup to grind them.

For convenience use bottled roasted red peppers if you don’t have the time or inclination to roast your own.

MAKE AHEAD

This dish can be partially prepared before it is cooked. Heat oil and complete Step 3. Refrigerate overnight or for up to 2 days. When you’re ready to cook, complete Steps 1, 2 and 4.

Mindful Morsels: On a daily basis we need to consume about 9 grams of protein for every 20 pounds of weight (1 gram per kilogram). Most vegetables are not a good source of protein because they lack the complete range of amino acids.


Natural Wonders: OLIVES



Although they are high in sodium, olives add a burst of flavor to this tasty stew, in addition to beneficial nutrients. Olives are a good source of healthy monounsaturated fats and polyphenols, which protect cells from damage and inflammation. Polyphenols are powerful antioxidants that appear to protect against cardiovascular disease and may also play a role in preventing cancer. One study found that women who regularly consumed olive oil lowered their risk of breast cancer by 25 percent. A recent study published in the journal Nature identified an anti-inflammatory agent in olive oil, a natural painkiller which acts like ibuprofen. The anti-inflammatory components of olives may reduce the severity of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, among other conditions.

MAKES8 SERVINGS

Cooking Methodslow cooking

CostInexpensive

Moderate

Total Timehalf-day

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together, game day

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationmain course

Equipmentcrock pot

Mealdinner

Taste and Textureherby, meaty, savory, spiced

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup (50 ml) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) dried thyme leaves, crumbled
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) grated lemon zest, optional
  • ½ tsp (2 ml) salt
  • ½ tsp (2 ml) cracked black peppercorns
  • 2 lbs (1 kg) trimmed stewing beef, cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes
  • 2 tbsp (25 ml) olive oil, divided
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) cumin seeds, toasted (see Notes)
  • 1 cup (250 ml) beef stock
  • ½ cup (125 ml) dry red wine
  • 1 can (14 oz/398 ml) diced tomatoes, including juice
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 roasted red bell peppers, thinly sliced, then cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces
  • ½ cup (125 ml) sliced pitted green olives
  • ½ cup (125 ml) finely chopped parsley

Instructions

Works in slow cookers from 3½ to 6 quarts

In a resealable plastic bag, combine flour, thyme, lemon zest, if using, salt and peppercorns. Add beef and toss until evenly coated. Set aside, shaking any excess flour from beef and reserving.

In a skillet, heat 1 tbsp (15 ml) of the oil over medium-high heat for 30 seconds. Add beef, in batches, and cook, stirring, adding more oil as necessary, until browned, about 4 minutes per batch. Transfer to slow cooker stoneware.

Reduce heat to medium. Add onions and garlic to pan and cook, stirring, until onions are softened, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle with toasted cumin and flour mixture and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add beef stock, wine, tomatoes with juice and bay leaves and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring, until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Add to slow cooker and stir well.

Cover and cook on Low for 8 hours or on High for 4 hours, until mixture is bubbly and beef is tender. Stir in roasted peppers, olives and parsley. Cover and cook on High for 15 minutes, until peppers are heated through. Discard bay leaves.

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