Joie’s Late Week Recipes: SAD-Prevention Beef Stew with Spicy Sweet Potato MashNovember 11, 2007
Winter is descending fast in the Northern Hemisphere and, for reasons that I do not care enough about to enumerate here, I am forsaking the sun-bathed beaches of Australia for the drizzle-soaked grey of British Columbia, Canada for the next two months. A tragedy like this calls for stew; some serious, blood-warming, soul-fortifying liquid life in a bowl. The issue of what to serve with stew is a serious one. There is the stew=centre stage crew who believe that you should have a side of mashed potatoes (plain) or broad flat noodles, a real canvas and paint situation. Then there is the camp I belong to (and there are very few of us around, as I understand it) that believe that whatever you serve your stew with should be able to stand-alone. Don’t misunderstand, I’m not talking about two competing flavours here. What I am talking about is two separate dishes that are excellent, singly, but explode into an orgy of amazing-ness when paired. With this in mind, may I present for your consideration:
SAD-Prevention Beef Stew with Spicy Sweet Potato Mash
- 1lb (454g) gravy or stew beef, cut into 1” cubes
- 1L beef stock (low-sodium, because it will get reduced)
- 2 med-large carrots, cut into short strips OR 250g of baby carrots
- 2 med onions, quartered OR 250g of pearl onions, peeled
- 2-3 tbsp of AP flour
- 1tsp dried sage
- 3-4tbsp of high smoke point oil
- salt & pepper to taste
- 3-4 serrano chillies
- 1kg sweet potato
- milk & butter as required
1. Heat oil on high in a cast iron pan until the surface of the oil is rippling
2. Coat the beef in flour, salt and pepper, dusting off the extra
3. Brown the beef in batches (don’t over crowd the pan), set the browned beef aside.
4. Evacuate the last batch of beef and deglaze the pan with beef stock (not all of it!), make sure you scrape up the tasty brown bits, stirring it into the stock.
5. Put the carrots, onion, sage and beef into the pan. Add stock to almost the top of the pan. Turn the heat down to simmer. Simmer for more than an hour, adding stock as necessary.
6. Meanwhile, cut sweet potatoes into evenly sized chunks. Dump it into a pot with enough water to cover the potatoes by an inch. Set over high heat. Bring to a boil and check constantly for doneness.
7. As the potatoes are cooking slice the chillies lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Slice thinly crosswise.
8. Drain the cooked potatoes, add the chopped chillies and mash with milk and butter. I like mine to taste real buttery, but that’s just me.
9. When you’ve decided that your stew has simmered enough, check the consistency of the gravy. If it’s not thick enough, mix either the remaining stock or some water with 2-3tsp of cornstarch and stir into the stew to thicken.
10. Serve the stew over a mountain of the orangey goodness.
 If you are mixing your stock from powder, use a little less than recommended, otherwise your stew will turn out too salty
 Peeling pearl onions is easier than it seems. Just drop them in boiling water for 30 seconds, quickly plunge them into ice water. Then simply squeeze at one end and they will squirt out of their skins.
 If you decide to use fresh herbs, use 2tbsp of chopped fresh sage, and add it at the end of cooking (last 5 minutes).
 Everyone seems to have an opinion on what sweet potatoes are vs. what constitutes a yam. In this recipe, sweet potato = the thick tuber with bright orange flesh.
 Because the amount of milk and butter required is completely dependent on the amount of moisture and sweetness in the sweet potatoes you use and sweet potatoes are an agricultural product (and therefore cannot be absolutely consistent) I cannot give you exact measures.
 If your oil starts smoking, throw it out and start again. You have heated it to the point where it has separated into nasty compounds. It will taste funny and may just give you cancer.
 If/when you run out of stock, use water. More stock = too salty.
 When you can pierce it easily with the tip of a knife, it’s done. Don’t over cook it, otherwise it would just turn gross.