Jamaican Beef & Beer Stew


Jamaican Beef & Beer Stew (or Caribbean Oxtail & Carlsberg Stew)

Offal has fallen out of favour in British cooking over the recent years but the credit crunch helped to bring some lowlier cuts of meat back into favour. I personally do not like tripe but will happily eat a steak & kidney pie or liver with crispy bacon. However, oxtail is a ‘crossover’ offal, categorised as an offal but more readily accepted as a meat by the general public.

Jamaican Beer & Beef Stew

Oxtail has always intrigued me ever since when I first moved to the UK as a child I saw cans of ‘Oxtail Soup’. When I tried it, it just seemed to be beef soup as far as I was concerned, so when I recently had access to oxtail from my local butchers, I though I should give it a go. Given sufficient cooking time, oxtail is tender but does not, in my opinion, offer good value for money. Using a traditional stewing beef provides the gelatinous quality to the stew without having work so hard to pick bits of meat out of the dish.

This recipe for Jamaican Beef & Beer Stew eliminates the need for oxtail but has all the wonderful, complex flavours of the traditional Caribbean Oxtail & Guinness stew, made contemporary and with better meat that is easier to eat. While cooking, it create the most amazing smell that will get all your neighbours coming around to find out what you have brewing!

Jamaican Beef & Beer Stew Recipe

Starting with the holy trinity of stews - celery, onion & carrot (plus some ginger & star-anise for Jamaican flavour)

500 grams of stewing beef
2 medium carrots (roughly chopped)
2 medium sticks of celery (roughly chopped)
1 large onion (roughly chopped)
4 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
1 knob of ginger (grated)
1 star-anise
1 tablespoon of brown sugar
1 tablespoon of smoked paprika
1 tablespoon of tomato puree
5 springs of Thyme – strip off the leaves
1/2 litre can of Carlsberg
1/2 litre of veal or beef stock (can be from a cube)
Water (to let the stew down if too thick)
Seasoned Oxtail (or stewing beef if preferred)

Seasoning for the beef

Flour
Salt
Pepper

To prepare the beef (or oxtail), lightly coat the beef in the seasoned flour and brown in a pan with a 50/50 mixture of butter and oil. The beef will release some of its fats during with process, helping to create the delicious brown flavouring on the outside of the meat. You may need to brown the pieces of beef in batches to ensure the pan doesn’t loose heat. Once the pieces of beef are browned, set aside to begin preparation of the stew in the same pan.

Preparing the Jamaican Beer & Beef Stew

This recipe is slightly complicated in that it needs to be done in two stages. Stewing beef and oxtail in particular are relatively fatty meats and therefore you need to leave the stew to separate so you can remove the fat. The best way to do this is to leave the stew in a fridge overnight. In the morning, there will be a hard, crusty layer of fat at the top which you can scrape off with a spoon (you can separate the stew into another container if it make it easier to keep in fridge as I have done in the picture to the left).

However, the taste is out of this world – a much fresher version of the classic English oxtail stew. You will notice that most of the top rated oxtail stew recipes on the internet are the Jamaican or Caribbean versions – the wisdom of the crowds speaks again! You can make this stew using Guinness instead of Carlsberg, with many of the original recipes using Guinness in homage to the classic Jamaican Guinness punch (worth having a look online at that crazy recipe!)

  1. In the pan that you used to brown your meat, add the onions, celery and carrots
  2. Cook until translucent (but not browned)
  3. Add the garlic, star-anise, paprika, thyme & veal stock – stir well
  4. Pour in the car of beer
  5. Return the meat to the liquid
  6. Add the tomato puree
  7. Once the mixture is bubbling, place in a pre-heated oven (160 degree) for 2.5 hrs or until the beef is tender
  8. Remove from oven and cool
  9. Place overnight in fridge and in morning remove the fat that has solidified on surface
  10. Reheat when you are ready to serve.

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