Smoky Beef and Leek Stew
- ACTIVE: 45 MIN
- TOTAL TIME: 2 HRS 30 MIN
- SERVINGS: 4
In Rioja, cooks add leeks to their hearty beef stews for a hit of sweetness and acidity, plus pimentón (smoked Spanish paprika) and peppercorns for a layer of spice.
- 1 small red bell pepper, chopped
- 1/2 lemon
- 2 medium artichokes
- 1 1/2 pounds trimmed beef chuck, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- All-purpose flour, for dredging
- 1/4 cup pure olive oil
- 6 medium leeks, white and tender green parts, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon sweet pimentón (see Note)
- 1 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 20 peppercorns, coarsely crushed
- 1 cup dry red wine, preferably Rioja
- 1 quart beef stock or canned low-sodium broth
- In a mini food processor, puree the red pepper; scrape into a small bowl.
- Squeeze most of the lemon half into a small bowl of cold water. Working with 1 artichoke at a time, snap off the tough outer leaves. Using a sharp knife, cut off the top half of the artichoke and peel the base and stem. Cut off the stem and drop it into the bowl. Using a melon baller or a spoon, scoop out the furry choke. Rub the artichoke bottom all over with the lemon half, then quarter the artichoke and drop it into the bowl. Repeat with the remaining artichoke.
- Season the beef with salt and pepper and lightly dredge the pieces in flour. In a medium enameled cast-iron casserole, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add half of the meat and brown over moderately high heat, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and brown the remaining meat in the same oil.
- Drain the artichokes and pat dry. Pour off the fat from the casserole and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the leeks and bay leaves and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are softened, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and pimentón and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the parsley, peppercorns and wine and simmer over moderately high heat for 5 minutes. Add the seared meat, stock, red pepper puree and the artichokes and bring to a simmer. Add a pinch of salt and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Season with salt and pepper and serve.
The spicy flavors in this long-simmered stew call for an equally intense red from Rioja.