Sunday, April 1, 2012

Beef with Spicy Cocoa Gravy

Ok. I get it. Beef, noodles, and gravy do not exactly equal Spring cuisine. In my defense, however, the past few weeks has brought more rain and chilly weather than we saw in January and February combined. San Francisco is just like that, I guess. Living here means throwing out all rules for "seasonal" wardrobe and cuisine!

This dish is comfort food at its finest. A cross between beef burgundy and a mole sauce, it boasts a complex array of flavors and a hugely satisfying aroma. Don't be put off by the long ingredient list. While you might end up having to purchase (or substitute) a few spices, it's a breeze to prepare. Basically, you just mix the spices, toss in some cubed meat, brown it, add your liquids, cover, and try to stay patient while the beef becomes melt-in-your-mouth tender.

Re: the wine, I used a Barbera from Robledo Family Winery, one of our favorite stops when we're in Sonoma. It worked beautifully, both as an ingredient and as an accompaniment. Yum!

Beef with Spicy Cocoa Gravy

  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ancho chile powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 pounds trimmed top round steak, cut into 1" cubes
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 14.5 ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
In a large bowl, whisk together cocoa, coriander, ancho powder, cumin, garlic, oregano, paprika and cinnamon. Add beef and toss to coat. Remove beef and set aside. Stir in flour to the remaining spices and return beef - toss well to evenly coat the pieces.
In a large Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add half of the beef mixture to pan and sauté until brown on all sides - about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove beef from pan and add remaining oil. Repeat browning with the remaining beef mixture - remove when browned.
Add onions and bell pepper into the Dutch oven and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes tender. Pour in wine and tomatoes - cook 3 minutes. Mix in beef broth, salt and black pepper. Add the browned beef back into the pan - cover, reduce heat and simmer until the beef is tender - about 1 hour and 10 minutes.

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