Lunchbreak: Carlyn Berghoff makes hessian beef-paprika stew with caraway
28th Annual Berghoff Oktoberfest
Adams & Dearborn
The Berghoff Restaurant
17 West Adams
Hessian Beef-Paprika Stew with Caraway
Makes 8 main-dish servings
5 Tablespoons olive or canola oil
3 pounds yellow onions, peeled
6 bell peppers (red, orange, yellow)
4 pounds well-marbled chuck, cut into 1½-inch chunks, trimmed of large, solid visible fat
2 teaspoons salt
2 Tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika, preferably Szeged brand
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 Tablespoon caraway seed
In an 8-quart heavy-gauge pot over medium heat, heat oil. Chop the onions and add one by one, stirring occasionally. Seed and core the peppers, one by one, chopping each into 1-inch pieces. Add to the pot, one by one, stirring occasionally. When all the onions and peppers have been added to the pot, cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are translucent but not brown and have begun to release their juices, at least 30 minutes. Uncover and add the beef and salt; increase the heat to medium. Cook, stirring, until the beef becomes opaque. Remove the pot from the heat and add the paprika, stirring to mix. Return to the heat and add the tomatoes and caraway. Stir to mix. Bring stew to a simmer. Decrease heat to low and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until beef is fork tender. If the gravy is not thick enough, then reduce by cooking, uncovered, for an additional 30 minutes, stirring occasionally from the bottom. To serve, ladle into bowls and garnish with boiled red-skinned potatoes, or a scoop of cooked white rice, or a square of gluten-free cornbread.
For a spicy stew, substitute one tablespoon of hot paprika for sweet.
To finish the stew in the oven, use an oven-safe pot. Cover and transfer to a preheated 325F oven after all the ingredients have been added to the pot. Cook, covered for 2 hours.
Use an 8-quart heavy-gauge pot, such as enameled cast iron. Use fresh Hungarian paprika and fresh caraway seeds. Lean beef, such as round steak, becomes dry with long cooking, so choose well-marbled chuck and trim away any large solid chunks of fat. The paprika is added off the heat to prevent burning, which makes it bitter. The stew makes it own rich gravy from the vegetable juices, which reduce during cooking. Can be made three days ahead and refrigerated, covered. Reheat before serving. The stew can also be frozen in covered containers for up to one month.