The seasonings we put in really added that Southwestern flavor.
This was the first time we've ever used epazote & I can tell you it won't be the last. I had never heard of epazote until Matt wanted to buy it at Penzeys this weekend. According to wikipedia it's "traditionally used with black beans for flavor and its carminative properties, it is also sometimes used to flavor other traditional Mexican dishes as well." It has a wonderful smell especially when mixed together with the Mexican oregano.
We were really happy with the way this dish turned out. The flavors all blended together so well and create a wonderful gravy without using any stock at all. The beans have a lot to do with that gravy, we used Vaquero beans from Rancho Gordo which have a slightly lighter flavor than black beans (though I think black beans would be a fine substitute). The real key piece in this stew though is the lime juice. That little bit of acidic citrus really makes the sweetness in the sweet potato shine.
All & all a perfect meal on another cold winter night & a nice change from a traditional stew.
Southwestern Beef Stew
1 T canola oil
1 onion (about 5 oz), diced small
2 carrots (about 5 - 6 oz), diced small
2 stalks celery (about 4 oz), diced small
1 jalapeno, seeded & chopped
1 lb stew beef
2 T all-purpose flour
1 c dry Vaquero beans (or substitute black beans)
4 c water
1 t dried epazote
1 t dried oregano (Mexican if you can get it)
1/2 t cumin powder
1 sweet potato (about 12 oz), peeled & cut into 1/2-inch pieces
juice of one lime
salt to taste
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery & jalapeno. Cook until the onions are translucent. Add the beef & cook until browned on all sides. Sprinkle the flour over the meat & vegetables. Cook while stirring for 1 minute.
Put the meat & vegetables in a crock pot. Add the beans, water, epazote, oregano & cumin powder. Cook on high for 4 hours or until the beans are tender.
Add the sweet potato. Reduce the heat to low & let cook another 1 1/2 - 2 hours until the sweet potato is tender.
Stir in the lime juice. Taste and add salt if needed.
Makes 5 servings
I did this in a crock pot but you could also easily simmer it on the stove instead. This stew would probably be good served over some rice though it doesn't need it.
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