Sunday, September 06, 2015

Kallops: Swedish Beef Stew

This morning I woke up to the sound of thunder and rain beating down on my rooftop.  I lay awake for a few minutes listening and feeling warm and snug in my bed. Then I became aware that there was a suspicious dripping sound.   I tried to ignore it.  It didn't work.  I had to get up and investigate. I had left my window open last night and there was a significant puddle of water dripping down the window sill. After wiping up the watery mess, I understood that stew would be required for dinner.  Not just any stew, but Swedish stew.  Warm, comforting, and simple.

Kallops has nothing fancy in it.  It is, in essence, just beef, carrots and onions. A bit of seasoning takes it from ordinary to sublime: bayleaf, clove, and allspice.  I use Leif Mannerström's recipe, as I defer to him for all things Swedish, especially husmanskost (roughly tranlated as home cooking).

Traditionally, this dish is served with plain boiled potatoes and pickled beet root.  However, I am not Swedish and I like to mix things up, so I often serve it over, mashed potatos, couscous or on buttered noodles. Here is my take on this classic stew, with a large helping of Mr. Mannerström.

Serves 4

1 kilo stewing meat
 2 onions
2 carrots
1 tablespoon flour
4 bay leaves
5 all spice corns
3 cloves
2 tablespoons soysauce
2 anchovy fillets, optional
a bit of oil for frying the meat
salt and pepper to taste
About 4 to 5 cups water

Cut the meat into bite-sized cubes.  Peel the onion and carrot and roughly chop into chunks.  Heat up a pot and brown the meat in two or three batches of a single layer of meat, making sure that all the sides are nicely colored.

It can be helpful to deglaze the pot in between batches.  You do this by swishing a bit of water around the pot and scraping off the brown bits on the bottom.  These juices contain a lot of beautiful caramel flavor and are the basis for the sauce.  I find that if I don't deglaze between batches of browning the meat, then the browned parts sticking to the pan start to burn, ruining the flavor of the dish.
Browned bits
Deglazed with water
Once the meat is all browned, sprinkle in the flour.  Using a spatula, spread the flour about and stir it around, letting it cook for a minute, but watching to make sure that it does not burn.  Add in a cup of water and use your spatula to deglaze the pot (again), making sure you get all the browned parts melted off the bottom of the pan and into the water.  Pour in all your browned meat (if you hadn't already) and pour in the meat juices from earlier deglazing, if you have it.  Add in the carrots and onions, the spice, the soysauce, and anchovy fillets if you are using them.  If you don't have any anchovy fillets, you can add a bit of worcestershire sauce, which contains anchovies.  If you don't have that, then just leave it out.

Add in the water until you cover the meat and vegetables.  Bring
After adding all ingredients.
the liquid to a boil and then turn down the heat and let it simmer, uncovered for about 1.5 hours, until the meat is very tender and the liquid has thickened.  Stir occasionally while it is cooking, just to make sure that nothing is sticking to the bottom.  If it looks like too much water is evaporating, feel free to add some more.  If at the end, the meat is down but you feel it is too watery, then just turn up the heat to high and let the sauce boil until it is at the desired thickness.  The broth should just be slightly thickened and have a bit of body.  Adjust the salt and pepper, and serve hot.
Finished stew with thickened sauce,

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