Azeri Beef Stew With Dried Plums Recipe

Bozartma: Azeri Beef Stew with Tomatoes and Dried Plums

I find stews with red sauce particularly appealing, as the one below. Don’t be shy with the oil, as it gives the dish the depth it asks for. Balance the richness with a side dish of fresh vegetables and pickles.

  • 1 kg beef shank cut in medium pieces
  • 2 onions, chopped as finely as you can
  • 2 tablespoons tomate paste
  • A handful of dried plums
  • 4 potatoes, cut in medium cubes
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric
  1. Sauté meat and onions in vegetable oil for 10-15 minutes. Then add 3 glasses of water and cook until meat is tender.
  2. Add tomato paste, potatoes and plums and cook until potatoes are done.
  3. Give the dish the final touch with turmeric and salt to taste. Serve.

Tips&Tricks: To freeze it, do it before putting in the potatoes and plums and add when reheating the stew.

Rabbit and Rice recope

Rabbit and Rice

This dish celebrates the fact that rabbit and rice were created for each other. Aim for a soupy consistency, the one that makes you doubt about using a fork.

  • A rabbit, cut in smallish pieces
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 cup of rice
  • 3 cups of water or chicken broth
  1. Sauté rabbit, onion and garlic in a generous amount of olive or vegetable oil over medium heat until you get a brown layer sticked to the bottom of the pan. Lower the heat and keep cooking until it darkens a bit more.
  2. Add half a cup of water or broth and you’ll witness a marvelous transformation as the layer disappears and gives way to a brown sauce that makes rabbit look much more appetizing.
  3. Let it reduce, add rice and stir well.
  4. Add water or broth and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes. Cover with a lid and let rest. Check every five minutes for the desired consistency. Serve.
Salted cod, rice and potatoes

Salted Cod, Rice and Potatoes

This —apart from her partridge in almond sauce— was my grandmother’s most celebrated  dish.

  • Salted cod, soaked for 24-48 hours and cut in cubes
  • 1/2 cup of short grain rice
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 potato, cut in small cubes
  • Olive oil
  • Spanish Sweet paprika (pimentón dulce)
  1. Sauté onions, garlic and potato with some olive oil until onions becomes translucent.
  2. Add 1 teaspoon of paprika and cod. Give it a couple of good stirs.
  3. Add 1 cup of water and cook uncovered over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, or until there is no liquid on the surface.
  4. Cover, turn off the heat and let it rest for another 10 minutes.
Rabbit and Potatoes

Rabbit and Potatoes

My grandmother used to make this every Sunday with rabbits she raised herself. I know I’ll never achieve the perfection that comes from repetition.

  • 3 Rabbit thighs or a whole rabbit cut in pieces
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • Potatoes
  • Bay leaf
  • Olive oil
  1. Put everything in the pot with a pinch of salt and cook over medium-low heat. Stir once in a while, scraping the bottom of the pot.
  2. After 10 minutes, cover with a lid and cook for another 15-20 minutes.

Tips&Tricks:

  • As many stews, it tastes better the day after.
  • If you have any leftovers you want to freeze, eat all the potatoes, then freeze.
Bean Soup from Naples

Napolitean Bean Soup

I loved Naples. It is a filthy, noise city that lives perpetually in a chaos that keeps your senses awake all day long.

I bought a book on a street market that seemed a collection of home recipes put together by a housewife with the help of someone with basic word processing knowledge.  Its contents, though, are fascinating. This recipe comes from the book.

  • Butter beans
  • Chopped Garlic
  • Chopped parsley
  • Chopped basil
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  1. Soak beans overnight.
  2. Next morning, boil beans until tender. This might take from 1.5 hours to 2.5, depending on water hardness and beans.
  3. When tender, add parsley, basil, garlic, olive oil and salt. Cook for another 10 minutes.

If there is stale bread, toast it slightly, and pour soup over.

It freezes well.

Tips&Tricks: if you can get fresh butter beans, you should definitively try this dish with them.

Azeri Lemon and Leek Chicken Stew

Azeri Chicken with Leeks and Lemons

I cannot travel much nowadays. Even the shortest breakaway drains our stamina because of all the attention our two babies need, so we’ve decided to wait a little longer until our next trip. Instead, I let my imagination do the work through cooking books. The latest arrival was The Food and Art of Azerbaijan, with many one pot dishes like this one, which is called “Toyug-Límon Buglamasy” (Google cannot find anything by those words, by the way.)

Reading the simple everyday recipes the book is filled with paints a perfect picture of an ordinary Azeri family kitchen and that’s why I love it. This humble chicken stew is a perfect example.

  • 1 chicken
  • 3 medium leeks
  • 3 small lemons
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Cut the chicken in medium size pieces.
  2. Finely chop leeks.
  3. Cut lemons in half.
  4. Put all the ingredients in the pot, add salt and pepper to taste, cover with a lid and stew for 45 minutes. Serve with a green salad.

I’ve made it with stuff from the supermarket, but I will try next spring with home raised chicken, and leeks and lemons from a Mayka’s garden.

Oxtail Braised in Red Wine

Oxtail Braised in Red Wine

It couldn’t get simpler than this. This dish all it basically needs is time.

Don’t confuse fat with gelatin. Oxtail contains a lot of the latter. You’ll be rewarded with tender and unctuous meat that asks for yet another glass of wine.

  • Oxtail, cut in pieces
  • a chopped medium onion
  • two cloves of garlic, chopped
  • bay leave
  • a bottle of good red wine
  • butter or vegetable oil
  • salt and pepper.
  1. Brown onion and garlic in some butter or oil.
  2. Add meat and enough wine to cover it.
  3. Let it simmer for 2-3 hours over very low heat until meat is done, dark and bright.

Best eaten with rich mashed potatoes or parsnips.

Spanish Green Beans with Chorizo

Galician Green Beans with Chourizo

I spent several summers as a kid in the farm where my grandparents sourced chourizos for their deli. Food was simple, but it will always be among the most delicious I’ve ever tried.

Green beans were at their peak and we would start every meal, day in, day out, with large platters of boiled potatoes and beans, plates with pieces of fried pork belly and a bottle with a strong homemade vinegar to dress the vegetables. This is the dish, but using chourizos (chouriços, in Portuguese; chorizos, in Spanish) instead of pork belly.

Don’t skip this recipe because it seems simple and dull. If you use good produce, you’ll repeat more than once.

  • A bunch of green beans
  • Two medium-large potatoes
  • Chourizo sausage, on the uncured side.
  • Olive oil
  • Wine vinegar
  • Salt
  1. Cut potatoes in big cubes and gently boil in salted water for 7 minutes.
  2. Cut green beans in medium pieces and add to the pot with the courizo. Boil for another 10 minutes.
  3. Drain.
  4. Serve and dress with olive oil and vinegar.

You can add a boiled egg to each plate. It goes very well with this dish.

Tip&Tricks: Because I don’t think you can find Galician chourizo, use either Portuguese or Spanish, as less cured as you can get. They will have a much nicer texture than the dry ones and will give potatoes and nice reddish hue.

long beans and pumpkin in coconut milk

Pumpkin and Green Beans in Coconut Milk

This recipe comes from Wendy Hutton’s book “Singapore Food”, which I bought when stopping for a week in this city-state on my way to a wedding in Adelaide. I gained 4 kilos because the food was so good.

  • 6 shallots
  • 2 large red chillies
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried shrimp paste (or 4 salted anchovies)
  • 1 tablespoon soaked dried prawns (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk
  • 400 g pumpkin, cut into small cubes
  • 200 g long beans, cut up in medium pieces
  • Oil and salt
  1. Finely chop shallots and chillies.
  2. Add 2 tablespoons of oil to the pot and fry shallots, chillies and shrimp paste over medium-low heat for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the prawns, stir-fry for another couple of minutes and then add the coconut milk.
  4. Add long beans and cook for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Add pumpkin and cut for another five.
  6. Season with salt, make sure the vegetables are cooked to your liking and serve with steamed rice.

It doesn’t freeze very well.

Salted cod with chickpeas

Salted Cod with Chickpeas

I know salted cod is an acquired taste, but it’s well worth the effort of learning to love it. When, as a kid, I was asked what foods I didn’t like I would answer “everything but salted cod”. Not anymore.

If you cannot find good salted cod, do it yourself.

  • 500g chickpeas, soaked overnight
  • A small onion, chopped
  • 500g  salted cod, soaked overnight
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon paprika
  • Bay leaf
  • Olive oil
  1. Gently sauté the onions with some olive oil.
  2. Add drained chickpeas and gently boil until tender. Do not use much water and add a bit more if necessary. You can either make a soup or a stew, depending on the amount of water you use. I like it on the soup side because salted cod skin has so much gelatin you’ll end up with a silky broth to die for.
  3. Add paprika and a good splash of olive oil.
  4. Add cod, cover the pot and turn off the heat.
  5. Serve.

I’ve just had three serving of this soupy stew today for lunch. My wife, two. I was going to freeze some, but I guess I will have to start over…