Usually when I think up a new recipe it’s because I’ve craved something I shouldn’t really be eating. I then mess around with ingredients and cooking methods to come up with a healthier version. This time, my husband came to me with a request. He mentioned that his boss at work made a really good beef stew and he wanted Ian to try it. I had a look at the recipe and I have to admit, it sounded amazing. The original recipe came in at around 550 calories, so not too bad considering. I could have just made it straight from the recipe I was given, but there were a few bits I already knew I wouldn’t be using. The original stew called for loads of black olives and a tin of sardines. I love black olives, but I am the only person within a 10 mile radius of my house that does. I knew I needed to scrap these from the dish. The hubs and I are also not fans of sardines. Okay I say we aren’t fans, but to be honest we never tried them. I just couldn’t wrap my head around fish in beef stew, so out these went. The recipe also called for 1kg of beef – a whole kilo! That is a lot of beef to me, even for 6 servings.
So queue me mixing it up a bit and making this my own. I knocked the beef down to 400g and added in sweet potato, butter beans and spinach. I’ll touch on the hazelnut picada briefly here. I had to Google what picada was because this was foreign territory for me. Now I was expecting some time of sauce after reading Wikipedia. This baffled me a little considering this was going with stew. This picada is actually more like a crunchy topping and really adds a whole other dimension to the dish. I wish I could take credit for thinking this up on my own, but I can’t. I did change it slightly though. Hello decadent beef stew for under 450 calories! Now mind, this is a lengthy dish. I would suggest making this on the weekend. It also is a bit fancy for me, but sometimes you need to eat something out of your comfort zone to change things up a bit.
Beef Stew with Hazelnut Picada – Serves 6
Beef Stew Ingredients
400g lean diced beef
2 onions, finely diced
2 large carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 medium sweet potatoes, cubed with skin on
1 tin butter beans, drained
2 handfuls baby spinach
2 tbsp coconut oil
3 tbsp flour
500ml beef stock
500ml red wine
100g blanched hazelnuts
3 slices sourdough bread
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 spring onion
Preheat oven to 160c and set aside a large oven-safe casserole dish with a lid. Place flour in a bowl and season with a sprinkling of black pepper, garlic granules, oregano and thyme. Toss the diced beef in the flour until well covered. In a large frying pan on high heat, add coconut oil and brown the beef on all sides. You want the beef to be just crispy on the outside.
Remove beef from the frying pan and set aside. Turn the heat down to medium on the frying pan and add the onion, carrots, celery, butter beans and sweet potatoes. Cook for 3 minutes so that the onion just starts to turn translucent. Add in black pepper, garlic granules, oregano, thyme and smoked paprika – this part is up to you on how you want it seasoned. I go heavy on the garlic and black pepper. Continue to cook for another 5 minutes.
Return the beef to the pan and add in the beef stock and red wine. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook for 10 minutes. Make sure that you continually stir the mixture so that it does not catch.
Transfer the mixture to the casserole dish and cover with a lid. Place in the oven and cook for 2 1/2 hours. When the mixture is finished cooking, pour the stew into a colander over a small pan to separate the liquid from the mixture. Place the stew mixture back to the casserole dish and cover with the lid to keep hot. Bring the stew liquid to a boil and reduce by a third. Add the spinach to the casserole dish and pour the liquid over the top. Replace the lid and set aside.
In a small frying pan with a few sprays of frylight, toast off the 3 slices of sourdough on both sides. Carefully tear into chunks and place in a small bowl. Spray the same frying pan with some more frylight and lightly toast the hazelnuts. Transfer to a cutting board and roughly chop. By rough I mean rough! It doesn’t matter if there are some whole nuts left.
Add the hazelnuts, spring onion and sherry vinegar to the bowl with the sourdough bread and give it a good mix to make up the picada. Remove the lid from the casserole dish and give the stew a gentle mix and dish up. Sprinkle the hazelnut picada over the top and enjoy! This dish will freeze well for up to 3 months if you somehow don’t eat all of this in one sitting. Let me know if you tried this and what you think!