What you need to know:
- Pot roasting may be used for pieces up to two kilogrammes or thereabouts for stewing which for optimum results ought to be in smaller chunks.
Whether one is pot-roasting, stewing or braising beef, all three procedures work best with the less tender cuts of meat such as chuck, shoulder, bottom round and brisket. These moist heat methods cook by slow cooking or simmering meat in a varying amounts of liquid in a closed pot such as a slow cooker (aka crock pot) or casserole for relatively long periods of time.
Pot roasting may be used for pieces up to two kilogrammes or thereabouts for stewing which for optimum results ought to be in smaller chunks. Cuts of different sizes may be braised using less liquid than for the conventional stew, and a somewhat longer simmering period. As a rule of thumb braising is invariably preceded by browning before cooking.
After browning the meat, pour off the excess fat. You may leave 1 or 2 tablespoons of the fat in the pan and set the meat on a bed of mirepoix (a blend of diced vegetables.) Or, for pot roasting, place the meat on a rack or on a piece of fat pork rind before adding boing stock. For a stew, the liquid should barely cover the meat. In pot roasting and braising, add liquid in the bottom of the pan to a depth of ¼ to ½ inch.
As soon as the liquid reaches a boil, reduce the heat at once so as to maintain a gentle simmer and cover the pan tightly. If the need arises, replenish the stock from time to time by adding boiling stock or water. Turn the meat now and again to keep moist. After browning, you may place the pan in a preheated slow oven for the remainder of the cooking whilst making sure that the temperature is constant throughout.
If cooking is done on top of the stove, the vegetables that you will serve with the meat should be added to the casserole during the last 45 minutes of cooking. Needless to say, you can of course short cut the entire process aforementioned by pressure cooking though we find that the necessarily high heat renders a less desirable result.
There is a method known as cooking a blanc---sometimes used for veal, pork or poultry in stews and pot roasts----in which raw meat is placed directly in boiling water and the heat reduced at once to a simmer as the meat changes colour. Ugandans are very familiar with this method and it is known as boilo and needs no introduction in this column.
Also, cooked without browning, are the Chinese red stews, but since the liquid used is fifty percent soy sauce and the other half water, the meat is coloured during the cooking. In red stewing, seasoning is done with garlic, ginger, spring onions and sherry.
Gravy served with a stew should not be thick but rather should have good body ---- what the French call du corps. Finally, before serving bear in mind that the gravy (sauce) served with a stew should stand for at least 5 minutes off the heat so that the fat will rise and can be skimmed off before serving.
Braised beef in a rich peanut sauce
As is the case with many dishes that were brought to the Philippines by the Spanish, this slow cooking stew, called kari kari in vernacular, manages to retain much of its original flair while at the same time it has acquired an unusual and unique oriental flavor. Interestingly, and something useful to know, it will come in handy when you need to thicken sauces, is the technique of using rice and peanuts as a thickener of sauces which has the added advantage of resulting in a rich and glossy sauce.
1. If you are not using pre-cut beef, then cut the beef into 1 inch cubes and set aside. Heat the oil in a flameproof casserole and add the annatto seeds if you are using them or else the sweet paprika and turmeric substitute and stir until the oil is dark red in color. Remove the seeds with a slotted spoon and discard.
2. Add the onions, garlic, ginger and celeriac or swede to the casserole and fry for 3-5 minutes, until softened but not colored. Add the beef and fry in batches until lightly and evenly browned. Add the stock, potatoes, fish or anchovy sauce, tamarind sauce, sugar, bay leaf and the fresh thyme. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for two hours or until ready.
3. In the meantime, place the rice in a bowl and cover with cold water and set aside for 30 minutes. If you are using the peanuts, roast them under a preheated grill for a couple of minutes and remove and rub off the skin with a clean tea towel. Drain the rice and grind with the peanuts or pea nut butter in a mortar with a pestle or in food processor.
4. When the beef is tender, add 4 tbsp of the cooking liquid to the rice and nut moisture and blend until smooth and then stir into the casserole. Simmer gently until thickened for 15 – 20 minutes. Stir in the wine vinegar and just before serving taste and correct seasoning.
Serves 4 – 6
1 kg boneless beef or buy beef stewing beef from Carrefour supermarket
15ml annatto seeds which is most unlikely unavailable in Uganda. I suggest combining equal parts sweet paprika and turmeric will suffice as a one-to-one alternative for ground annatto.
2 medium onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tablespoons crushed fresh ginger
300g celeriac(celery root) or swede, roughly chopped
500ml or 2 cups beef stock (use Maggie beef cubes)
½ kg Irish potatoes, peeled and cut into large dice
1 tbsp fish or anchovy sauce
2 tbsp tamarind sauce
2 tsp sugar
1 bay leaf
1 fresh sprig thyme
3 tbsp long grain rice
2 tbsp peanut butter
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
Salt and ground black pepper to taste