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Warming Winter Entrées

By on January 18, 2016
Beefy, Barely, Kale Stew Recipe

The rich flavours of browned beef only get better when they’re stewed with tender barley and finished with hearty kale. This stew is comfort food at its best—rich and satisfying, hearty and healthy, and filled with fresh green flavour. Add just about any other green vegetable you can think of: broccoli, asparagus, peas, edamame, savory greens, Brussels sprouts. Makes 8 bowls, easily doubled in a larger pot.

Beefy Barley Kale Stew

Ingredients
2 pounds (900 g) of stewing beef, 
cut into roughly 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes
A few generous splashes of vegetable oil
2 onions, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
A 5 ½-ounce (156 mL) can of tomato paste
8 cups (2 L) of water
2 cups (500 mL) of red wine
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons (10 mL) of salt
Lots of freshly ground pepper
1 cup (250 mL) of barley 
Leaves from 4 or 5 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 bunch of kale, tough center ribs removed, 
leaves torn or cut into small bite-size pieces
Prepared horseradish

Directions
Heat your largest thick-bottomed pot over medium-high heat while you gently dry the beef on a few paper towels. Splash a pool of oil into the pot, swirling to cover the bottom with a thin film. Without crowding the pan, carefully add a single sizzling layer of beef. This is your only shot at adding the rich, deep flavours that can only come from respectfully, browned meat. Listen to the heat. Sizzle is the sound of flavour. Too loud, though, and a sizzling pan becomes a smoking-burning pan. When the beef is deeply browned all over, transfer it to a plate. Repeat with the rest of the beef, 10 to 15 minutes in total. Pour off any excess oil, leaving behind any browned bits of goodness.

Add the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, tomato paste, water, wine, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Return the beef and any juices to the pot. Stirring occasionally, briefly bring the works to a furious boil, then reduce the heat to a slow, steady simmer. Cover tightly and gently simmer for an hour or so, stirring now and then, patiently tenderizing the meat, releasing its richness and building deep, beefy flavour.

Stir in the barley and cook for another hour or until the beef is meltingly tender and the barley deliciously chewy. When it’s time to eat, discard the bay leaf and return to a simmer. Stir in the thyme and kale, cover, turn off the heat and rest just long enough to wilt the greens, a minute or two. Serve with lots of sharp horseradish.   

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Sweet Potato Soup and Pumpkin Seed Pesto

Serves 6

Soups are super simple to make ahead, especially when you know you’re packing them with this much nutritional intensity and flavour.  Sweet potatoes are crammed with gloriously healthy flavour, bright color and smooth texture. They really are perfect for soup. Of course this brightly flavoured pesto doesn’t hurt either!

For the Soup
¼ cup (60 mL) of butter
2 onions, finely chopped
4 or 5 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon (5 mL) of grated frozen ginger
1 teaspoon (5 mL) of cinnamon
½ teaspoon (2 mL) of nutmeg
1 teaspoon (5 mL) of salt
Lots of freshly ground pepper
4 cups (1 L) of chicken broth 
1 cup (250 mL) of whipping cream
4 pounds (1.8 kg) of sweet potatoes, peeled 
and grated or finely chopped

For the Pesto
1 cup (250 mL) of unsalted roasted pumpkin seeds
½ cup (125 mL) of finely grated 
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
¼ cup (60 mL) of extra virgin olive oil
2 green onions, chopped
8 fresh sage leaves

Directions
Toss the butter into a large pot over medium-high heat, swirling it gently as it melts. Add the onions, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pepper; sauté just long enough to brighten the flavors, 2 or 3 minutes. Pour in the chicken broth and cream. Stir in the sweet potatoes. Briefly bring the works to a furious boil, then reduce the heat to a slow, steady simmer, cover and simmer until the sweet potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

Working in batches if you need to, carefully purée the hot soup as smoothly as you can using an immersion blender, a blender or food processor. (A good old fashioned mashing ain’t bad either!)

Make the pesto while the soup simmers. Dump everything into your food processor. Purée until smooth, scraping the sides down once or twice. Ladle the soup into festive bowls and dollop a spoonful or two of the pesto into each bowl.

Storage Tip
Refrigerate: Tightly seal the soup and refrigerate within 30 minutes of cooking. Store for up to 6 days before reheating. Tightly seal the pesto and refrigerate for up to a week. 

Freeze: Portion the soup, tightly seal and freeze for up to 30 days. Reheat straight from the freezer or thaw in the refrigerator for 1 or 2 days before reheating. Tightly seal leftovers and store in the refrigerator for just a few days. Tightly seal the pesto and freeze up to a month. 

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Vietnamese Chicken Curry  

Serves 4-6

Vietnamese curries are typically lighter than Indian or Thai curries, but are no less aromatic. This heartwarming stew is flavoured with fragrant lemongrass, umami-packed fish sauce and hearty sweet potatoes, and gets its richness and silkiness from coconut milk. It’s a versatile dish that can be served over rice or a bowl of rice noodles. I like it best with a crusty baguette, pieces ripped off and dunked into the spice-filled broth, soaking up every last golden drop. 

For the Broth
2 or 3 stalks of lemongrass, trimmed
2 tablespoons (30 mL) of vegetable oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 inches (5 cm) or so of unpeeled fresh ginger, sliced
¼ cup (60 mL) of fish sauce
1 tablespoon (15 mL) of sugar
1 tablespoon (15 mL) of Sriracha, sambal oelek or your favorite hot sauce
4 cups (1 L) of real chicken broth, a low-sodium store-bought substitute or water
For the Curry
3 tablespoons (45 mL) of curry powder
2 tablespoons (30 mL) of cornstarch
1 tablespoon (15 mL) of sugar
½ teaspoon (2 mL) of salt
2 pounds (900 g) of boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
A few splashes of vegetable oil
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-size cubes
2 carrots, cut into small cubes
A 14-ounce (400 mL) can of coconut milk with cream

To Garnish
A handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 crusty baguette

Directions
Make the broth. Bruise the lemongrass with the side of your knife, then cut it into 3-inch (8 cm) pieces. Splash the oil into a soup pot over medium-high heat, then toss in the onion and garlic. Sauté until they’re lightly browned, 2 or 3 minutes.

Add the lemongrass, ginger, fish sauce, sugar, Sriracha and chicken broth. Briefly bring to a furious boil, then reduce the heat to a slow, steady simmer. Cover and simmer until the broth is aromatic, 30 minutes or so. Turn off the heat and rest while you carry on, or chill the works and reserve.

Make the curry. In a large bowl, whisk together the curry powder, cornstarch, sugar and salt. Add the chicken and toss until it’s evenly coated. Pour a few splashes of oil into a Dutch oven or large pot over medium-high heat, enough to cover the bottom with a thin film. Using tongs, carefully add the chicken pieces. Patiently fry them until they’re golden brown and crusty on both sides, 10 minutes or so.

Add all the broth. Briefly bring to a furious boil, then reduce the heat to a slow, steady simmer. Simmer, tenderizing the chicken, for 20 minutes or so. Add the sweet potatoes, carrots and coconut milk. Simmer until the veggies are tender, 20 minutes or so more. Ladle out bowlfuls and sprinkle with cilantro and green onions. Serve with crusty baguette for dipping.

Storage Tip
Refrigerate: Tightly seal the broth and refrigerate within 30 minutes of cooking. Store for up to 4 days before making the curry. Tightly seal the curry sauce and refrigerate within 30 minutes of cooking. Store for up to 6 days before reheating. 

Freeze: Portion the broth or finished curry, tightly seal and freeze for up to 30 days. Reheat straight from the freezer or thaw in the refrigerator for 1 or 2 days before reheating. Tightly seal leftovers and store. 

From “Make Ahead Meals” Copyright © Michael Smith 2015. Reprinted by permission of Penguin Canada,  a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Photography credit: Ryan Szulc.

 

About Charleen Wyman

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