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A study in Peruvian spices.

I was recently asked to put together some spices for 'Peruvian Night' cooking event. Always happy to try new cuisines, I was glad to oblige. Therefore the two p

blends here are the culmination of my efforts. One is rich spice blend that can be used to add a deep rich, spicy influence to all number of different dishes with a broad range of core ingredients from vegetables, fish and chicken to beef, venison and even llama. The second is a salt blend designed to add a hint of that Andean flavour to anything you choose to add to. I have used it on chicken goujons, chips, pork knuckle and even popcorn, I kid you not, it is hot and spicy with a floral undernote.


Well worth the time to play and experiment.


So with out further a do I give you


SECO DE CARNE [PERUVIAN BEEF STEW RECIPE]





This Andean dish has roots from all over the world and as the name suggests, the end product has a reduced sauce, (I am not going to use the term ‘dry’ in any recipe I do unless it refers to wine!)

The heat is middle eastern and the herbs are Mediterranean, but the concept is mountain comfort food. All this combined with the meat and vegetables of your choice gives a hearty, fragrant and spicy dish.


As I sit and write this recipe, it is snowing hard outside and I am not inclined to venture too far in search of usable ingredients. As a consequence, this is a fridge raid meal. What do I have and will it work? Ironically, this is the nature of the dish in its native form. In Peru, the casserole has the basic spice blend with its core element of Aji Amarillo, Spanish yellow chillies, and then whatever meat and veg comes to hand. Beef in this case, with onions, swede and edamame beans but you could just as easily use lamb, chicken, fish, Llama, Guinea pig (it is an Andean dish after all!) or even go meatless and use pumpkin or butternut squash. The veg can be potatoes, celeriac, carrots, pumpkin or, as in this case, swede, which is what I had in the fridge.


The method is simple and benefits from a long slow cook. In this case, it is ideal for the slow cooker.


Ingredients.


As I mentioned, these are not hard and fast but a general guide.



400g stewing beef pieces (1 -2 cm chunks)

1 red onion – finely chopped

1 red pepper – finely chopped

1 clove of garlic – crushed

1 ½ tablespoons of Suffolk Spice Company Peruvian blend.

1, 400g tin of chopped tomatoes

2 tablespoons of rapeseed oil.

200g of swede – peeled and finely diced (1 cm)

1 generous bunch of fresh coriander

200 g frozen edamame beans (peas will work too.)

200 ml cold water.


Method.


Drain the beef of any liquids and pat dry. Combine the beef well in a bowl with the spice blend and leave to marinate for at least ½ hour.


Heat the oil a heavy frying pan on medium/high heat and add the beef. Stir well so that all the pieces gain a little colour and are seared. Add the onions and continue to cook until they begin to become soft and translucent. Now add the garlic, swede and peppers.

Again stir well for 2 -3 minutes to coat all the ingredients in the spices. If the garlic looks like it is beginning to darken, turn the heat down.



Next add the tomatoes. Stir well for a couple of minutes.

While this is happening, in a blender, nutra-bullet or using a stick blender, put a good handful of the fresh coriander leaves and stalks with the water and blitz. This will effectively give you a coriander stock. Add this to the beef and stir well. Leave to bubble on a low heat for 5 minutes.

At this point, you have a choice as to how you cook your casserole but with the beef it will need a long slow cook. That could be done by covering your pan and putting in an oven at 170 C for 2 hours or until the meat is tender, or transferring to a slow cooker and leaving to do its thing for 2 ½ - 3 hours again until the meet is tender.

In each case, check your stew periodically to ensure that it does not dry out too much and catch. Remember this is a reduced casserole and ought not be too wet.


When you are happy that your stew is almost there, cook your edamame beans in some boiling water for 5 minutes, drain and add to the stew for the last 10 minutes of cooking time.


Serve with rich buttery mashed potatoes and greens, in my case, curly kale and Scattered with some fresh, roughly chopped coriander.


As with many spiced dishes, this is good on the day you cook it but if you can bear to wait, leave it to cool and serve reheated the following day. The flavours will intensify with the delay, as will the anticipation!


The second offering today is


Peruvian spiced salt.



This blend of spices and salt is designed to be a tool in your culinary armoury to add a distinctive spicy uplift to anything you might care to add it to. It works on a variety of dished but I have to say I cannot wait until BBQ time, I just know it is going to be an absolute winner on charcoal seared tuna or a bit juicy steak, yum!

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