Monday, January 04, 2010

Beef Estofado with Polenta

For Christmas, I received a copy of the Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook . . . ironically, from my mother! She makes awesome short ribs served with polenta - she found both recipes in that book. Initially, when I thawed the stew meat, I did not intend to create a dish so similar to her short ribs and polenta, but as the beef estofado (southwest or Spanish beef stew) cooked, I realized polenta would be a perfect accompaniment. Since it was a last minute decision, I made a quick stovetop variation of the polenta she serves with short ribs. For the minimal effort involved, this was a pretty good dinner. It wasn't quite as good as Mom's short ribs, but then again . . . it's not my mother's slow cooker cookbook!

Beef Estofado with Polenta
2 lbs. beef stew meat, cut in to 1-inch pieces
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tbsp. flour
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
1 pint salsa
3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
pinch of dried oregano or marjoram
pinch of cumin
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup dry red wine (I used red zinfandel)
2 tbsp. chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

1. In a ziplock bag, toss beef with salt, pepper, and flour.

2. In a skillet over medium-high heat, warm olive oil to very hot. Add onion and cook,
stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Transfer onion to slow cooker. Add beef to the
skillet and brown on all sides, 3 to 4 minutes (may need to brown beef in two batches,
depending on skillet size). Transfer beef to slow cooker. Add salsa, vinegar, oregano,
cumin, and water to the slow cooker and stir.

3. Pour wine into skillet over medium heat; stir constantly to remove browned bits from
skillet. Wine may reduce a bit. Pour wine and browned bits into slow cooker and stir.
Cover and cook on low 8 hours, or until beef is very tender.

4. Immediately prior to serving, add salt and pepper to taste.

5. Serve over cheesy polenta*. Garnish with chopped parsley.

*To make cheesy polenta, follow instructions on polenta (also known as corn grits) package, stirring in a pat of butter and shredded parmesan to taste immediately prior to serving. The Bob's Red Mill brand is typically easy to find and works well for this recipe.
- Beef estofado adapted from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook