The Happy-Accident-Kinda-Sorta-Beef-Stew with Chipotle Crema

The Happy-Accident-Kinda-Sorta-Beef-Stew with Chipotle Crema

I had all the intentions in the world of making beef fried rice, really! I made lime-cilantro rice, I sautéed my bell peppers, hot peppers, onion and garlic with cumin, chili powder, and cayenne powder, I added some black beans, and then I got the bright idea to add a few tomatoes that were about to go bad, and as the tomatoes broke down, things started getting a little saucier than I expected and I was thinking, "well, this is kind of not what I wanted originally." I added a little chicken stock to deglaze the skillet, and then I started browning my beef and then deglazed THAT skillet with stock and when I added everything back together, I was like "HEY, WAIT A MINUTE. THIS IS STEW!"

So, I decided to just go with it and added a little more stock and let it cook for about an hour. Fortunately, I was using a pretty tender cut of beef, so it didn't need to cook for hours. I served the stew over my lime cilantro rice with a bit of the chipotle crema from this morning's breakfast and the end result was simply fabulous. 

I guess the moral of the story is that when life gives you a bowl of Happy Accident Beef Stew, you take it and you enjoy every bite of it.

GRADE

Serves: 6

Cost: $

Skill Level: Easy

Time to Make: 1 hour 30 minutes (50 minutes active)

INGREDIENTS

8 slices of bacon

1 medium onion

2 bell peppers

1-2 hot green peppers (such as jalapeño or serrano)

4 cloves garlic

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder

4 small to medium sized tomatoes

Salt and pepper to taste

1 14.5-ounce can of black beans

2 cups fresh kale (optional)

1 pound hanger steak or chuck roast (Chuck roast may require longer cooking time)

2 cups chicken stock, plus more if necessary

2 cups uncooked rice

4 cups water

Olive oil

1 bunch cilantro

2 limes, plus more for serving

1 cup sour cream

1 cup heavy cream

Salt

1 small can chipotles in adobo sauce

METHOD

Prep Ingredients: Slice the bacon into lardons. Small dice the onions and bell peppers.  Mince the garlic and hot peppers. Quarter the tomatoes. Drain and rinse the black beans. Roughly chop the kale. Mince the cilantro and set aside a teaspoon for garnish. Pat the steak dry and season with salt and pepper and cut into bite-size cubes and keep in the fridge until ready to cook.

Prepare the Chipotle Crema: In a small bowl, combine the sour cream, heavy cream, and a pinch of salt. Whisk to combine until the crema is smooth. Stir in 2-3 teaspoons of the sauce from the can of chipotles in adobo sauce. Reserve the chipotle peppers for another use. Stir to combine the crema and leave out at room temperature. Note: The crema will last as long as your sour cream if kept in an airtight container. I usually feel comfortable using homemade crema for two weeks after making it, but that's just me! 

Cook the Bacon: Add the sliced bacon to a large, cold skillet and turn the heat to medium high. Cook, stirring regularly, for 8-10 minutes or until the fat has rendered and the bacon is crispy. Remove the bacon from the skillet leaving the grease in the skillet.

Fry the Vegetables: Return the skillet with the bacon grease to medium high heat. Once hot, add onion and bell peppers and cook for 6-8 minutes or until beginning to soften. Add the garlic and hot peppers and cook an additional minute or two. Season with cumin, chili powder, cayenne powder, salt and pepper. Add the black beans and cook for 2 minutes. Add 1 cup of chicken stock and the kale and reduce heat to low and cook for 10-15 minutes until the kale as cooked down. Transfer the vegetable mixture to a large bowl and carefully wipe out the skillet.

Brown the Beef: Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the same large skillet over medium high until very hot. Add the beef in an even layer, cooking in batches if necessary, and cook until browned on all sides. Add all the beef back to the skillet and turn the heat to high. Add the remaining one cup of stock and turn the heat to low. Add the vegetable mixture and bacon to the skillet with the beef and simmer, covered, for 1 hour over low heat. Periodically stir the stew and if it seems to dry, add more chicken stock. Once the beef is very tender, remove from heat and taste and season accordingly (adding cumin, chili powder, cayenne powder, or salt and pepper to taste). 

Make the Rice: During the last 20 minutes of the stew cooking, prepare the rice. In a large pot, add 2 cups of rice, 4 cups of water, a drizzle of oil or a pat of butter, and salt. Bring to a boil. Stir once, reduce heat, and cover and cook for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the rice rest for 5 minutes before removing the cover. Stir in the juice from 2 limes and the cilantro. Taste and season with salt. 

To Serve: Divide the rice between bowls and spoon the stew on top. Serve with a drizzle of the chipotle crema and garnish with a touch of cilantro. Serve with lime wedges at the table if desired. Enjoy!

Designer and photographer living in NYC. I work as a design manager in ed tech and I make tasty recipes in my spare time!