Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Khoresh-e Karafs

     Persian Beef and Celery Stew!
     This is not an average western world stew!  The flavors are very rich, yet light on the tummy.  The seasonings are not what you may expect them to be.  Khoresh-e Karafs will please those who seek a healthy stew recipe that has a classic Middle Eastern flavor.
     No beef stock or broth is used to make Khoresh-e Karafs.  The onions are caramelized to a brown color, before adding the beef.  Then the beef and onions are caramelized together, before stewing.  All I can say is that this method of making the stewing sauce yields a bold rich French onion soup flavor that is very satisfying.
     Persian and Arabic cooks are masters of the art of flavoring food with herbs and spices.  Knowing when to add certain spices when preparing a recipe is the key to making great Persian cuisine.  The herbs are added late in a Khoresh-e Karafs recipe, so a crisp bright flavor enhances the extra rich tasting caramelized onion and beef.

     I had a good Persian and Arabic cuisine education as a child.  My step grandfather was a great chef from Lebanon and Syria.  He sure was adept at teaching the art of creating specific food flavors.
     Some of the oldest ancient cook books in the world are from Persia.  Persia has been known for fine gourmet food since long before the ancient days of Rome.  In many ancient literary works, sailors and venturers on trades ships in the Mediterranean Ocean often mentioned how good the food was in Persia.
     The reputation for good food is probably why ancient Persian cookbooks have stood the test of time and are still referenced to this day.  Many modern cooks in the western world have taken interest in Middle Eastern cuisines, because this style of food offers many healthy options and there is no shortage of flavor.              
     Khoresh-e Karafs:
     This recipe yields 1 large portion!
     Step 1:  Heat a wide sauté pan or braising pan (sauteusse) over medium heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil.
     Add 1 cup of thin sliced onion.
     Add 1 minced garlic clove.
     Sauté the onions till they start to caramelize.  (Be sure to stir the onions often).
     Step 2:  Add about 8 ounces of beef chuck roast (beef shoulder) that is cut into bite size pieces that are about 1/4" thick.
     Sauté and stir the beef and onions, till they are caramelized with rich brown color.
     Step 3:  Add enough water to cover the beef  About 2 1/2 cups.
     Bring the liquid to a gentle boil.
     Step 4:  Reduce the temperature to low heat
     Slowly simmer the beef and onions for 45 minutes to 1 hour.  (Add water as necessary to barely keep the beef covered with liquid.)
     Step 5:  Add 1 1/2 cups of celery stalks that are cut 1" long.
     Continue simmering the stew.  Allow the level of liquid to reduce to just below the level of beef and celery.  
     Step 6:  Heat a small sauté pan over medium low heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
     Add 3 tablespoons of minced Italian Parsley.
     Add 3 tablespoons of minced fresh mint leaves.
     Gently sauté till the herbs become aromatic, but not browned.
     Step 7:  Add the oil, parsley and mint mixture to the stew.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Add 1 tablespoon of lime juice.
     Add 1 tablespoon of raw sugar.
     Add 1 teaspoon of virgin olive oil.
     Step 8:  Raise the temperature to medium low heat.
     Simmer the stew till the celery is tender and the broth reduces to a manageable amount (about 1 1/3 cups).  There should be a thin layer of herb flavored olive oil on the surface of the broth.
     Keep the stew warm over very low heat.
     Step 1:  Use a slotted spoon to mound the celery and beef in a shallow single portion casserole dish.
     Spoon a generous amount of the broth and herb oil into the casserole dish.
     Place the casserole dish on a doily lined serving platter.
     Step 2:  Place some triangle shaped slices of warm pita bread (khubz arabi) on the platter.
     Garnish with Italian Parsley sprigs.
     Serve with a bowl of Basmati Rice on the side.
     The flavor of this Persian beef and celery stew is so delicious, that it is difficult to describe!

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