This recipe was actually created as a result of putting together 2 others that I love, and in all honesty, was a bit of an experiment. The starting point was a pack of organic stewing steak destined for a tagine served with couscous and pomegranate seeds. Sounds good, right? The only problem was that when I came to cook it, I wanted something that felt really comforting a bit luxurious and a bit unhealthy too… While the resulting recipe isn’t too unhealthy, it will certainly fill a hungry belly or 6! And it’s also going to put a smile on your face.
I kept the tagine style flavours in the beef stew base, but for me the bit that really makes this recipe a winner is the slightly crisp, oh-so indulgent saffron rice crust on top. It cuts into substantial portions with a bit of structure, to sit on top of a big scoop of the saucy filling below: a sort of rice pastry crust. (Purists, don’t worry: I won’t dare call it a pie!) I borrowed the rice element from one of my absolute favourites, that ultimate luxury dish, the biriyani. It definitely adds a special feel to this recipe, and in my opinion, makes it work so well.
The only other thing I added was some potatoes and carrots to the tagine style beef, because as far as I am concerned, nothing says comfort food quite like a trusty, soft, slow cooked root vegetable. And trust me, the potatoes in this recipe are soft, fluffy chunks of heaven. (You can thank me later!), but first, here is the recipe.
Spiced slow-cooked beef with a saffron rice crust recipe
Serves 6, cooking time 2 hours
Note – time to marinade the beef not included in the cooking time
For the beef:
400g stewing steak, diced
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tin chickpeas, drained
800g potatoes and/or carrots
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp sweet paprika
1 tbsp ras el hanout
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 bay leaf
500ml beef stock
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
For the rice:
1 ½ cups basmati rice
50g salted butter
1 tsp saffron strands
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
500ml hot chicken stock
Mix together the spices for the beef, and coat the beef pieces evenly. Place in the fridge to marinade for at least 2 hours.
Gently heat the milk in a saucepan over a low heat for 2 minutes, be careful not to boil it.
Add the saffron and mix in, then remove from the heat and leave to one side.
Rinse the rice through in a sieve until the water runs clear, then soak in cold water while you cook the meat.
Wash the potatoes and carrots, and cut into chunky pieces, about 4-5cm. Put them into a bowl or jug of cold water to stop the potato from turning brown.
Remove the beef from the fridge and heat the oil in a non-stick casserole pan over a medium-high heat.
Brown the beef on all edges, then add the tomatoes, chickpeas, any remaining spices from the beef marinade bowl and the stock.
Bring to the boil, drain and add the potatoes, carrots and bay leaf, then cover and simmer over a low heat for 1 ½ hours.
About 20 minutes before the beef will be finished, preheat the oven to 180°C.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a low heat, then add the garlic and sweat for 1 minute until you can really smell the garlic!
Drain and rinse the rice, and add to the pan. Mix in well to coat the rice in the butter and garlic, then add the chicken stock.
Cover and bring to the boil, then turn down to the lowest setting and cook for 8 minutes.
Drain the rice, and once the beef is cooked, remove it from the oven and stir through.
Carefully spoon the rice onto the surface of the beef, then spoon the saffron milk over the rice.
Replace the lid, and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
To serve, scoop off some of the rice first, to get to that delicious filling underneath!
If you want more comforting spicy recipe ideas try this Tandoori Roasted Veggie Pie Recipe