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This oh-so-easy braise with the wow factor of chocolate and chilli is delectable winter fare.
Chuck or blade steak, both old-fashioned cuts of meat, cook to a melting tenderness in this classic Central American braise.
During the long slow simmer, the onion and red capsicum take on a sweetness which combines well with the bitterness of the chocolate, giving the braise a melting smoothness and rich depth of flavour.
The subtle earthiness of the mushrooms and red kidney beans is the perfect foil for this complex sauce, complementing it perfectly.
After the initial preparation, which is minimal, you can leave this dish to cook unattended for several hours.
As with most stews this is at its best when made a day or two ahead of time to give flavours time to develop. Reheat when needed. Serve with a salad or your favourite green vegetable.
Crusty bread or creamy mashed potatoes also go well.
It is important to use the right type of chocolate, one that has not been overly sweetened.
Choose a chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa solids to give the required bitterness.
Both Whittakers and Lindt produce dark bittersweet chocolate. Energy chocolate is not suitable.
1.2kg blade or chuck steak
4 Tbsp flour
1½ tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 large red capsicum, deseeded and finely sliced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
¾-1½ tsp prepared chilli from a jar
1 Tbsp brown sugar
⅓ cup tomato paste
1⅓ cups beef stock
1 400g can tomatoes in juice
2 300g cans red kidney beans rinsed and drained or 2½ cups cooked
1 Tbsp olive oil
200g portabello mushrooms, wiped and sliced
50g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), chopped
fresh coriander or mint leaves to garnish
sour cream to servese
Heat the oven to 170degC.
Trim any fat from the meat and cut the beef into 3-4cm cubes. Place the flour, cumin and cinnamon into a large lidded casserole dish. Toss the meat cubes with the spiced flour until the meat is evenly coated. Add the onion, capsicum and garlic.
In a medium-sized bowl combine the chilli, brown sugar, tomato paste, beef stock, tomatoes and red kidney beans.
Tip this into the casserole dish and stir gently to mix everything together. Cover with a tight fitting lid and place in the heated oven and cook for 3-3 hours until the meat is very tender. This may seem a long cooking time but all the ingredients are cold when assembled in the casserole dish and it is quite a sizable quantity to heat through before any cooking begins.
Heat the oil in a frypan and cook the mushrooms over gentle heat. Add to the casserole and return to the oven for about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and stir in the chopped chocolate, scatter with coriander or mint leaves and serve. Top each serving with a spoonful of sour cream and serve the remaining sour cream in a bowl at the table.