Priest’s Beef Stew

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Since I haven’t posted a new recipe in a while, I wanted to break the silence with a heavily delicious or deliciously heavy one: priest’s beef stew or ragout. This succulent ragout recipe comes from the Aegean part of Turkey, and judging by the name, priest–not “yahni” since it is of Persian origin for meat and onion dishes–the dish must be originally Greek. Another clue about its Greek roots is the use of cinnamon. Although it is an indispensable spice in Turkish cooking, cinnamon is used for the most part in desserts, not in savory dishes and most definitely not in stews. But here we go, this stew asks for cinnamon and allspice, and in the end the beef braised for hours with these spices is just fantastic. If you are a meat eater, you will want to write this recipe down.

serves 4-6, depending on the appetite
2 lb stew beef
1 lb pearl onions, peeled (you can use frozen ones, but I really think they don’t taste the same)
3 tbsp butter
1 head of garlic,8-10 cloves, don’t panic it’s good
3 tbsp red wine vinegar or 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 can of diced tomatoes or 3 tomatoes, grated
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice, ground
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp or more salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/4 c flour
2 c hot water
parsley, finely chopped to garnish
-Place stew beef on a flat surface (a big plate or a tray), sprinkle flour on top, and make sure each piece is coated.
-Melt the butter in a stew pot, add stew beef, and on medium heat saute until they are all browned and crispy outside: 6-7 minutes.
-Add pearl onions and garlic and stir for  another 6-7 minutes. At this point flour on the beef might stick to the bottom of the pot, but that’s fine. Keep stirring; it’ll go away once you add tomatoes and water.
-Add diced or grated tomatoes (I always put diced tomatoes in a food processor or a hand blender and pulse 2-3 seconds to have a smoother texture), spices, salt, and boiling water.
-Once it bubbles, turn the heat down to low, cover ans simmer for at least 2 hours, and get a beer &  go outside because the delicious smell will drive you crazy.
-Serve with rice and/or crusty bread.
I started making papaz yahnisi based on a recipe that I read from a Turkish cookbook back in the day when I didn’t have a blog and wasn’t careful about my recipe sources. and now I cannot remember the name of the writer or the book. If I remember, I’ll definitely cite it.
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