The cast iron kettle is one of my favorite “tools”. Its round base diffuses the heat in a way that allows you to use it just as well for stew, roasts or frying in oil/lard, for either slow or fast cooking. You must have a certain know-how when it comes to adjusting the fire, but this skill can be acquired quite fast. Of course, you can always use a gas burner and a gas bottle, but if this is perfect for frying some potatoes really fast, for slow cooking a stew it is preferable to use wood fire, as the smoke is essential to the final flavor of the food.
The best beef stew I have made until this day felt the heat of the cast iron kettle this year. It happened to be maturated beef (maturated beef is not only suitable for steaks, as there are chunks that are better if cooked slowly, on the heat of the embers) and I happened to share it with my loved ones. Let me tell you how I made it:
I cut the meat (beef brisket) into not too large and not too small cubes (3.5 cm in length). I rubbed it thoroughly with Maldon salt, freshly ground pepper and a paste made from roasted bell peppers, roasted hot peppers, smoked paprika and just a bit of smashed garlic. Obviously, you can make this paste to match your taste. Three tablespoons of paste are enough for 4 kilograms of meat. Four kilograms of meat make 20 servings. The rest of the ingredients: carrots, celery, parsley root, dried onions, green onions, bell peppers, hot peppers, duck or chicken lard, parsley leaves. The quantity of onions should be twice as much as the quantity of celery. The same proportion applies to carrots and parsley.
I put the lard in the cast iron kettle, I added the onions and I stirred with a large wooden spoon until the onions were completely soft. I then added the meat and stirred as much as necessary within the next hour. I then added the bell peppers, the celery, the carrots and the parsley (here you can choose between cubes and round slices). I always made sure there was a lid on the kettle, except the moments I had to stir. In this manner, I prevented the water from the meat and the vegetables from naturally evaporating. Any stew tastes better if cooked in its own juice, without adding water.
If you decide to add potatoes or homemade pasta to this stew, you can add water, but make sure it boils with the rest of the ingredients for at least 30 minutes. However, it might be best to cook the garnish separately and combine everything on the plate. It goes without saying (hopefully) that you need to adjust the taste with salt and pepper and that you should add hot peppers taking into consideration that the stew has to be enjoyed by the others too. The green onions and some thin round slices of bell peppers, along with a handful of parsley leaves, not only offer the stew a pleasant aspect, but they also add freshness to its taste. Add these in the final stage, of course.
That’s all for today. Stay healthy.