Comfort Food with a Newark Edge: Ironbound Estofado

It shouldn’t surprise you that the woman that’s married to the Lord of the Underworld knows a lot about New Jersey.  I don’t know what you’ve heard, but it’s a place with a lot of family, tradition and culture.  And a place that loves its food: it’s a melting pot.  One of those places is Newark, where our family roots run deep.  Spanish and Portuguese influences are strong.  These flavors resonate deep within in me.  Perhaps it’s the immigrant in me and maybe in Americans, in general.  We should all embrace our mongrel past.

With this dish it is officially fall in PK.  Although I hear the Spaniards do this kind of a dish year round.  This beef stew with chorizo and root vegetable mash is chock full of the cheapest cut of beef – boneless chuck roast – plus a couple of links of chorizo for spicy flavor.  Then add in some veg from the garden (or your local Whole Foods) and you’ve got yourself an inexpensive, flavorful, and super-satisfying comfort dinner with a twist.

This afternoon I dove in and pulled up a huge bunch of parsnips from the garden and threw them in the sink to rinse (along with a frighteningly large, oddly colored spider that was subsequently released back into the wild as opposed to washed down the disposal).  These spider-free parsnips became the base for the lovely root vegetable mash that accompanied our stew.  The great thing about this – for those of you that want fewer carbs – is that it’s mostly vegetables, not just potatoes.  And for those of you that say, “Pshaw, I care nothing about the carbs I consume!” then this mash is the most marvelous thing you can eat with the lovely meat gravy you have left after simmering your roast for many hours.  Enjoy, eaters.

Ironbound Estofado

1½ Boneless Chuck Roast (or whatever’s cheapest at your butcher – really!)

½ red onion sliced in thick rings

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 carrots, cut in very large chunks

2 medium Brandywine tomatoes (isn’t that perfect?) or ½ pound tomatoes, chopped

1 medium green bell pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped

2 links of chorizo sausage, quartered

6 c. water

Olive oil, salt, pepper

2 T. Butter, 2 T. Flour

Fresh chopped coriander (really, people, this time it’s not optional)

In a large, heavy bottomed pasta pot, heat a good glug of olive oil.  Add in your roast that has been generously seasoned with salt and pepper.  Cook over medium high heat to sear each side, four to five minutes a side.  It should get nice and brown and release from the pot easily.  Remove roast and set aside on a plate. 

Dump in the onions to deglaze the pan, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to get all that goodness (a.k.a., the fond) up off the bottom.  Then after three or four minutes of stirring the onions, add the garlic, tomatoes, and peppers.  Cook for another minute or two, stirring to incorporate.

Add back in the roast, along with any juices that collected on the bottom of the plate.  That’s more goodness, readers.  Add in the chorizo.  Pour in 6 cups of water.  Raise heat to high and bring to just below a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for four to five hours, uncovered.  If you feel like flipping the roast over halfway through, do it, but really there’s no need to mess with it.  It should be fine.

Just before serving, make yourself a bit of Beurre Manié to mix into the stew. PK tip: this is seriously one of the greatest things you can learn.  Mix equal parts of softened – not melted – butter and flour (use your fingers to make it into a paste) and then drop the whole chunk of thoroughly mixed fat and flour into a stock or stew that needs thickening.  After a few minutes of simmering, this results in a lovely body to the sauce, plus the flavor of yummy, yummy butter and no clumps.  Nailed it.

About 30 minutes before you’re ready to serve the roast, peel and cube one large russet potato, two large carrots and three large parsnips.  Rinse under cold water, then cover with water, add a generous pinch or two of salt and bring to a boil.  Boil for 10 to 12 minutes or until the parsnips and carrots are soft.  Drain, add in two tablespoons of butter, and a splash of milk or half and half.  Use a potato masher to roughly mash the vegetables.  You’re not looking for a pristine purée here, just an incorporation of the three vegetables.

To serve place a large spoon of the vegetable mash in a warm, shallow bowl (hear that one before?), then top with a couple of spoons of the sauce from the stew along with a generous chunk of the roast, a few pieces of sausage and some of the soft carrots.  Top with a bit of chopped cilantro.

Serve this with what we served it with: an inexpensive Monastrell.

Maybe while you’re cooking, you’ll fancy a listen to the mighty, mighty White Stripes’ Icky Thump.


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