Shortcut Beef Catalan

This Spanish beef and bean stew normally cooks long and slow because tough cuts of meat are used. By substituting ground beef, I've pared[ cooking time to about 50 minutes. I've also significantly trimmed prep time by using packaged, peeled baby-cut carrots, bottled salsa, and canned cannellini.]

Yield:
Makes 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 strips lean bacon, snipped crosswise into julienne strips
  • 1 pound lean ground beef chuck
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen chopped onions (2 medium-large yellow onions)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • One 1-pound packaged peeled baby-cut fresh carrots
  • 2 whole bay leaves
  • Two 3-inch sprigs fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
  • One 3-inch strip orange zest
  • One 1-inch piece cinnamon stick
  • 2 whole cloves
  • One 10 1/2-ounce can beef consomme
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • One 1-pound jar chunky salsa (not too spicy)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • One 1-pound 3-ounce can cannellini (white kidney beans), drained
  • 3 tablespoons minced Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Directions

Heat oil in medium-size Dutch oven over moderate heat 1 minute. Add bacon and cook, stirring often, until only browned bits remain, about 5 minutes. Lift brown bits to paper toweling to drain. Raise burner heat to high.

Pat ground chuck into large flat patty and brown in drippings, allowing about 3 minutes per side; life to plate and reserve.

Reduce heat to moderate; add onions, garlic, carrots, bay leaves, thyme, orange zest, cinnamon, and cloves to Dutch oven and cook, stirring frequently, 5 minutes until onions are golden.

Add consomme and wine, bring to gentle boil, set lid on askew, and cook 15 minutes. Lay meat patty on top of stew, set lid on askew, and cook 15 minutes more.

Break meat into 1 1/2-inch clumps, mix in salsa and tomato paste, and cook uncovered 5 minutes. Add cannellini, parsley, and reserved bacon and bring just to serving temperature. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Remove bay leaves, thyme sprigs, and cinnamon stick, ladle into heated soup plates, and serve.


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