Spanish Fricco (Beef, Potato and onion stew)

Finally, I have the time to explore new dishes. The past few days have been spent in the school helping out the teachers and by the time I reached home, I could only afford to cook familiar dishes. Thankfully, the hubs was willing to take over the cooking (his fried rice!) and household chores. Feels blessed.

Anyway, the next few dishes would more or less come from The Essential New York Times Cookbook by Amanda Hesser since I’m going through this book now.

I welcome this stew on a very busy day. It’s easy – just put inside the oven and let it stew! The preparation is simple too, making this dish a busy working day’s meal.

But the problem is according to the recipe, you would need two Dutch ovens. One big and one smaller obviously so that the latter can sit inside the bigger one. I’m not sure of anyone who has two Dutch ovens; maybe this is the norm in US? Anyway, since I have only one small Dutch oven, I just place all the ingredients in it and place it inside the furnace for the same period of time as advised. When the cooking broth looks like a wreck with rivulets of cream streaming through the beef juices, it is a success (according to the author).

Well, to me, the dish came out fine. I appreciate the natural juices that come from the beef. I’m not sure how it will turn out if I follow the recipe to a tee. If you know, do tell me. =)

Serves 6

2 pounds boneless beef shoulder
4 large white potatoes
1 1/2 large yellow onions
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp unsalted butter
4 bay leaves
1/4 cup heavy cream or creme fraiche

1. Heat the oven to 350F. Cut the beef into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Flatten each slice between sheets of waxed paper to 1/4 inch thick.

2. Peel the potatoes and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Cut the onions into 1/8-inch-thick slices.

3. Have ready 2 Dutch ovens or heavy pots, one that’s large enough to hold all the ingredients and a larger one that will hold it comfortably. Cover the bottom of the smaller pot with one-quarter of the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Dot with 1 tbsp butter. Add a bay leaf, and cover with one-third of the beef and one-third of the onions. Season again. Repeat this 2 more times. Cover with the remaining potatoes, season once more, and add the remaining bay leaf. Using your palms, press down on the ingredients to compress the mixture. Pour in the cream.

4. Cover the pot, set it inside the larger pot, and fill the larger pot with enough boiling water to come halfway up the smaller pot. Transfer to the oven and bake until a knife inserted in the layers slips right through, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Lift the smaller pot from the larger pot, to make serving easier.

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