Saturday 14 June 2014

Low-Carb Beef Shin, Tomato & Olive Stew with a Naartjie Gremolata

It's the gremolata that makes this stew special: a heavenly scent of citrus, parsley and garlic billows up as your face meets the plate. The starring ingredient here is freshly zested naartjie [clementine] peel - a glorious South African flavour that brings such warmth and colour to winter kitchens.

Beef Shin, Tomato & Olive Stew with Naartjie, Lemon, Garlic & Parsley Gremolata.
 Bowl by my uncle David Walters, Master Potter of Franschhoek.

Wine recommendation from Michael Oliver: Simonsig Pinotage 2012.  Go to the
end of the  page for more detail about this pairing.

I'm besotted with naartjies and use them with abandon in many dishes, even more so now that I've discovered that they have no impact on my blood sugar. They're one of the only fruits I, as a diabetic, can eat with no fear.  At the end of this post, you'll find links to some of my favourite naartjie recipes.

This nourishing beef & olive stew is easy to make. 

This heartwarming, deep-flavoured stew is easy to make, but it involves several steps, and takes time, as all good stews do.  It will take you about 45 minutes to get the stew on the go - so put on some music and relax into the cooking! After that you can leave the pot on the stove over a very low heat and forget about it for two or three hours.

Please use well-trimmed, dark-red beef shin in this recipe, preferably with the bone in.  Shin is much leaner than other similar stewing cuts, and it dissolves beautifully into melt-in-the-mouth pieces.  You can use boneless shin if you don't fancy finding those fat ivory bangles in your stew, but the bone marrow does add lovely unctuousness to this dish, and the leftovers make good treats for jealous dogs.

A tip: avoid sliced shin that looks as if it has bone dust sprinkled over the meat.  If your butcher can't slice up a shin without splintering the bone, his saw isn't sharp enough, and you must find a better supplier.  The shins I used here come from Woolies - they're on special now.

If anyone in your family doesn't like olives, set aside a portion before you add the olives.

This recipe contains four tablespoons of flour, so it isn't perfect if you're on a punishing low-carb diet. However, this is a piffling amount of carbohydrates split between six to eight people, so I think I can confidently recommend this for anyone on a low-carb or diabetic regime.

Some of the ingredients for this dish: carrots, leeks, beef shin, bacon, garlic,
red wine, chopped tinned tomatoes, olives and naartjie peel. 

Here's an Instagram quick video of my making this dish:

Beef Shin, Tomato & Olive Stew with Naartjie Gremolata

8 (2 kg) bone-in beef shin slices
4 Tbps (60 ml) white flour
salt and milled black pepper
4 rashers streaky bacon, chopped
3 Tbps (45 ml) olive oil, for frying
2 large onions
500 g medium carrots
500 g small leeks
2 bay leaves
a large sprig of fresh thyme
4 cloves garlic, peeled
5 Tbsp (75 ml) tomato paste
1 cup (250 ml) dry red wine
2 x 410 g tins tomato-and-onion mix, or chopped tomatoes
1 thumb-sized strip naartjie [clementine] or orange peel
24 Calamata olives, pitted

For the gremolata:
the finely zested rind of 2 small naartjies
the finely zested rind of a lemon or lime
5 Tbsp (75  ml) finely chopped fresh curly parsley
2 small cloves garlic, peeled and finely grated

Trim any small pads of fat off the shin slices. Snip the membrane surrounding the slices here and there so the meat can collapse easily in the pan.  Put the flour on a plate, season generously with salt and pepper and mix well.

Heat a large heavy-based lidded pot over a high flame and fry the bacon bits dry until golden and just crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Press the shin slices - three at a time - into the seasoned flour, and shake to remove the excess. Add the olive oil to the pan and when it is very hot and shimmering - but not yet smoking - add the first three shin slices. Fry for 3 minutes, until nicely golden and caramelised, then turn them over to brown the undersides.  Don't allow the pan to get too fiercely hot, or your stew will have black spots.  Remove the slices from the pan and set aside on a plate. Repeat with the remaining slices.

In the meantime, get the vegetables ready.  Peel the onions and cut them into thick slices, crossways. Do the same with the carrots, cutting them into 2-cm thick slices. Trim the bases of the leeks, remove the green upper parts and slice the white and pale green sections crossways into 4-cm lengths.

When you've finished browning the shin, add the onions, carrots, leeks, bay leaves and thyme sprig to the pan, turn down the heat and sauté for 4-5 minutes, or until the onions are beginning to turn golden.

Gently sauté the veggies in the bacon fat & olive oil.
Finely grate or chop the garlic, and add it into the vegetables along with the tomato paste.  Cook, stirring often, for a minute, without allowing the garlic to burn. Pour in the red wine and deglaze the pan, stirring and scraping to dislodge any golden stickiness.

Turn up the heat and add the tinned tomatoes and the reserved bacon and beef shin. Press the shin pieces deep into the liquid and bring to a fast boil. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

Now turn down the heat to its lowest setting. Cover and bubble very gently for 2½ to 3 hours, or until the meat is so soft you can pull it apart with a fork.  Thirty minutes before the end of the cooking time, add the olives.

Check the stew now and then to make sure it isn't sticking on the bottom.  You shouldn't need to add extra liquid, but if the sauce seems too thick, thin it down with a little water.

Just before you serve the stew,  mix together, in a small bowl, the grated naartjie and lemon zest, the chopped parsley and the freshly grated garlic.  Turn off the heat under the stew, and sprinkle with the gremolata.  Alternatively, you can pass the gremolata around the table and let your guests help themselves. [Postscript 15 June 2014: My daughter says not to put too much gremolata on each portion as it can overpower the taste of the stew.]

Serve with hunks of warm crusty bread, or rice, or boiled baby potatoes, or - best of all - creamy mash.

Serves 8 as a main course. 

Wine pairing by Michael Olivier: 

It looks like: ‘Deep Persian carpet red’, say the estate notes. At the edge of the glass the wine shows ruby purple, an indication of its youth.

It smells like: Sweet red berries and cinnamon spice.

It tastes like: Again the red berries. Soft tannins. Sappy with fruit cake spices on the long aftertaste.

More naartjie recipes: 

Slow-Cooked Moroccan-Spiced Beef and Apricot Stew with Naartjie Couscous

Dried Naartjie Peel, and a South African Milk Tart to go under it

Naartjie Mousse in Dark-Chocolate Cups, with Rosemary Flowers

Caramel-Dipped Naartjies on Kebab Sticks

Couscous, Feta & Pea Salad with a Naartjie Dressing

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