Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Recipes #83: corned beef stew with #84: ampesi (boiled starchy vegetables)

One of our household standbys for unexpected guests, corned beef stew is also one of the first recipes I taught all my children when they were learning to cook. 

Historically, when folks in Ghana returned to their hometowns for holidays, they would often carry "tinned" goods from the urban areas to give as gifts, such as "tinned milk," "sardines," "mackerel" and "Exeter corned beef." This stew, sort of like a hash or chowder without the milk or potatoes, still carries a sense of being special. 

When my children were young, they used dried ginger and red pepper, but it tastes better using fresh seasonings. Also, they used an 8-ounce can of tomato sauce instead of fresh tomatoes. It's your own call on exactly what you use.

Recipe #83: Corned Beef Stew

Assemble ingredients:
  • 1 can of corned beef
  •  about a 1" piece of fresh grated, peeled ginger (or about a half teaspoon of dried)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of curry power (more if you like a zestier flavor)
  • dried ground red pepper to taste (begin with about 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon and add more if you want it spicier), OR fresh hot minced or ground chili peppers (with or without seeds and membranes) of your choice
  • Additional seasoning of choice (I added a little optional Mrs. Dash no-salt seasoning)
  • 1 large onion, sliced or chopped
  • 1/3 cup of peanut oil (or other vegetable oil)
  • a few cloves of garlic, crushed or minced (optional)
  • salt to taste (depends on fresh or canned tomatoes, and personal preference, but I'd begin with 1/2 teaspoon)
  • 1 8-ounce can of tomato sauce (OR 4-5 fresh tomatoes, peeled and seeded and chopped or pureed, if desired, OR substitute canned tomatoes, pureed or chopped).
  • a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste (optional)
  • 2 eggs
  • Garnish of your choice: a small onion and fresh bell pepper slices sauteed in a little oil, fresh steamed or sauteed vegetables, etc. (I had some green beans fresh from the garden, so I used those.)
    1.  As for most Ghanaian stews, begin with making a gravy: prepare the onion, ginger, pepper (if using fresh) and garlic if using. I was rushing today, so I threw the onion in a mini food processor, emptied it out, and then added fresh coarsely chopped ginger, pepper and garlic. Unfortunately, I didn't like the texture of those at all. I suggest that if you wish to use a machine, you use a blender to grind the spices finely instead, and I still prefer chopping onions for stews by hand.
    2. Heat the oil in a heavy pan, then fry the chopped onions for a few minutes.
    3. Add the spices and salt and cook a few more minutes.
    4. Add the tomatoes (I pureed canned tomatoes in a blender, but strained out the seeds before I added it to the stew), stir well, and let the stew continue to simmer.
    5. Break the eggs into a small bowl and beat them with a fork, and stir into the stew, and let all simmer together for 10 minutes. Most of the water should evaporated so the stew is not runny. If it is too dry, add a little water to keep it from sticking.
    6. While the stew simmers, prepare any garnish.
    This stew goes very well with plain rice, or rice and beans (waakye), as well as the ampesi recipe that follows.

    Variation: other "tinned" foods, like tinned mackerel, could be substituted for the beef.

    Recipe #84: Ampesi (boiled starchy vegetables) 

    While frying is a popular cooking mode in Ghana, healthy and simple boiled starchy vegetables are also very common. When I think of my favorite meals, I remember the small green plantains (apim or apem) that often accompany nknotomire stew, or  the larger plantains (apantu) that are more commonly served ripe, the boiled yam slices that go with most any stew, as well as  boiled cocoyams (taro) or cassava (manioc). Boiled sweet potatoes (usually white) are a less common form of ampesi.

    When I first went to Ghana I was taught to put the heavier root vegetables that would take longer to cook on the bottom of the cooking pot, and the faster-cooking ones on top. In the U.S. I just put them all in together in a jumble. A good addition/substitution in the U.S. is russet potatoes.


    Assemble ingredients. The amount depends on the quantity of vegetables you're preparing and how many people you plan to serve.
    1. Peel the yam, cut it into rounds about half an inch thick, and cut each round in half. If using green plantains, peel them and cut  them in half lengthwise (horizontally). If using ripe plantains, sweet potato, cassava (manioc), potatoes, or cocoyam (taro), peel and cut each in several pieces.
    2. Put them into a large pot, cover with water, and add a little salt if you like.
    3. Bring the water to a boil and cook until the vegetables are soft but not mushy (if the ripe plantains cook more quickly, you can remove them with a slotted spoon while the other vegetables finish cooking).
    4. Drain the water off when they are cooked (about 20 minutes), and serve immediately with any stew, such as corned beef stew.



    anthia-ofo said...

    We just finished the last of our 'CBS' as my kids sometimes call it. It's a good standby. Quick to make for guests. Sometimes I add sweet peppers or red kidney beans. I also made some palaver sauce with beef ff your recipe.

    Fran said...

    Hi, Anthia:
    Thanks for your comment. I also vary it, sometimes garnishing it with pepper rings, or adding peas and carrots, etc. Hope the palaver sauce turned out okay.

    Shayron said...

    My favorite! Corned beef stew with plantains or rice YUMMMM =)