If you live in the Midwest, you know that springtime isn’t all sunshine and butterflies. We have plenty of gray days that can feel like winter and sometimes all we want to do is curl up in a blanket with a hearty bowl of something and pray that 70 degree weather is right around the corner. This recipe is perfect for just those days. It’s personally one of my favorite Lebanese stews (or yakhnis) growing up and it’s super easy to make. However, this isn’t your average beef and potato stew. What makes this stew especially delicious is the flavor profile offered by a paste of fresh garlic and cilantro. This base, which is a feature of most Lebanese stews, makes for a uniquely savory broth that you will just have to try to understand. So if you’re looking to make a stew but want to try something new (ha! I rhymed!) this will not disappoint!
1.5 pounds of beef stew cubes
1 head of garlic
1 bunch of cilantro (plus some for garnishing)
3 pounds of potatoes
2 teaspoons tomato paste
Salt & Pepper (to taste)
Lemon juice (1 large lemon)
8 cups of water
Note: My recipes serve at least 4 people. While we are only 2 and a baby, I make enough of a meal to last a few days. I cannot stress how convenient it is to have a home-cooked meal without having to prep everyday when you’re juggling a million other things.
- In a stock pot, bring your 8 cups of water to boil. In the meantime, make your garlic-cilantro paste by pulsing the cilantro and peeled garlic head (8-12 cloves) in a food processor. You will use this paste to flavor 3 different components of the stew:the meat, the broth, and the potatoes.
- Drizzle a bit of vegetable oil in a large skillet and add in 1/3 of your garlic-cilantro paste. Sauté for 1 minute until you smell the aroma of the cilantro and garlic. Be careful not to burn the paste.
- To the sautéed garlic-cilantro paste, add in your beef cubes, some salt and pepper to taste, and let brown on all sides.
- By now, your water should be boiling. Toss your browned and flavored beef cubes with another 1/3 the garlic-cilantro paste into the stock pot and allow to simmer on low for 2 hours or until your meat is very tender and the broth is flavorful.
- In the meantime, peel, rinse and cube your potatoes.
- Repeat step 2 with the remainder of the paste this time adding your cubed potatoes and browning them on all sides but not fully cooking them. Now toss the herbed potatoes into the finished broth and stir well.
- Mix in your tomato paste, lemon juice, and any salt and pepper then cover and cook on medium heat until the potatoes are nice and tender. I do this immediately after I add the potatoes in so that I’m not stirring and mushing the potatoes once they are cooked.
- Once your potatoes are fully cooked, ladle a generous serving of meat, potato and hearty broth into a bowl, garnish with freshly chopped cilantro and serve with a side of buttery rice, lemon wedges, and crunchy radishes.
Note: I grew up learning to make this stew by deep-frying the potato cubes and then sautéing them with garlic and cilantro. My dad will tell you that if it’s not made this way, it’s not authentic. And while it is super tasty made that way, the stew is just as tasty without frying. Whether you decide to bake, deep-fry, or sauté your potatoes, just make sure to add them in near the end when your meat is tender and your broth is richly flavored. If you add them in too early, they will turn to mush and you don’t want that to happen. Trust me.
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