Saturday, 15 January 2011

Beef, Garlic and Bell Pepper Stew

The number of people I have spoken to this week who have been suffering from the common cold has been staggering. Determined not to succumb myself, I decided to take some serious preventive action. No, I did not visit the local chemist's shop/drugstore, I turned to Mother Nature herself for assistance...

Garlic. The oft labelled, "Stinking Rose." The health benefits of garlic are many and profound. The problem is that some of them can be destroyed/affected by cooking, especially if the scourge of healthy eating - a microwave oven - is used. You can find a very informative article on the subject by Dr Kristie Leong by clicking here.

This dish is based upon one which I remember tasting in the beautiful, medieval town of Prachatice in the Czech Republic. On that occasion, if memory serves me correctly, the beef and garlic stew had a name indicating the fact that there were no fewer than forty cloves of garlic in it. This recipe has but seven cloves per serving but it should be noted that the garlic cloves are mostly cooked whole. This gives them a sweet, milder flavour than most people associate with garlic. What I also did, though, was keep one clove back until near the end, to ensure the principal health benefits were obtained to at least some extent.

Ingredients per Portion

6oz shin of beef
1 green bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
7 cloves of garlic
1 small white onion
2 pints of fresh beef stock
Salt and pepper


The shin of beef should be cut in to bite sized pieces. Do not discard any of the fat. The beef should then be added to a large pot and quickly browned and sealed over a high heat. There is no need for fat or oil. The beef stock should be brought up to a simmer in a separate pot.

When the beef is browned, the onion should be peeled and quartered, the green pepper only deseeded and sliced in to 1/2" strips and six of the garlic cloves peeled. These ingredients should be added to the pot and stirred around in the beef before the stock is oiured in. The stock should be brought to a simmer and the stew left to simmer for an hour and a half. It should be stirred occasionally and the liquid level checked. The stock can be topped up with a little boiling water if necessary.

The garlic, onion and the green bell pepper will largely break down and thicken the stew during this time, so adding the red bell pepper (deseeded and sliced) after an hour and a half will reintroduce some body and bite to the mix. A further half hour's simmering should see the beef deliciously tender. The final garlic clove should be grated in to the stew five minutes before it is ready. The stew should be tasted and seasoned prior to being served.

This stew could be served with potatoes, or a number of different vegetable accompaniments. I have in this instance, however, served it simply with some crusty bread. The bread can be served as is or you may like to put a little extra spin on it.

Slice the bread to about a thickness of 1". Grate/shred some cheddar cheese and mix it with a little dried sage and black pepper. Spread the cheese on the bread and toast under a hot, overhead grill until the cheese melts and begins to bubble.

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