Indonesian Stewed Beef (Rendang)
This luscious Indonesian dish, from a recipe in James Oseland's book Cradle of Flavor (W.W. Norton, 2006), is traditionally eaten with white rice, but it is also wonderful with crusty Italian bread.
Yield: serves 4-6
- 5 whole cloves
- 1 whole nutmeg, slightly crushed in a mortar and pestle
- 6-8 red Holland chiles, or 3-4 Thai chiles, stemmed and roughly chopped
- 6 small shallots, roughly chopped
- 5 candlenuts or macadamia nuts
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 (2") piece fresh or frozen turmeric, peeled and roughly chopped, or 1 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
- 1 (2") piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 (2") piece galangal, peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 lb. boneless beef chuck, cut into 2" pieces
- 7 fresh or frozen Kaffir lime leaves, plus 4 very thinly sliced, for garnish
- 3 stalks lemongrass, trimmed, smashed with a mallet, and tied into knots
- 2 sticks cinnamon
- 2 1⁄2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Pulse cloves and nutmeg in a food processor until very fine. Add chiles, shallots, nuts, garlic, turmeric, ginger, and galangal; purée until a slightly smooth paste forms, about 2 minutes. Transfer paste to a 12" nonstick skillet with beef; using your hands, mix together.
- Add 7 lime leaves, lemongrass knots, cinnamon, coconut milk, and salt; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, stirring occasionally to prevent coconut milk from scorching, until the consistency of thick pea soup, about 1 1⁄2 hours. Continue to cook, stirring frequently to prevent burning, until sauce and beef turn a dark caramel color and the sauce coats the beef, 2 1⁄2-3 hours. Discard whole spices before serving; garnish with thinly sliced lime leaves.