Beef with Artichokes (Moschari me Agkinares)

Beef, glorious beef!

chuck roast for beef with artichokes moschari me agkinares

Ingredients

Please note that the following amounts are variable, and may be altered to taste.
1.5 pounds of beef stew meat
artichokes - 18 baby artichokes -OR- 12 large artichokes -OR- two 1-lb packages frozen artichoke hearts
1 large onion
2.5 - 3 pounds tomatoes
2 bunches green onions (scallions)
1 bunch baby dill
1/4 - 1/3 cup olive oil

Moschari me… (beef with…) is essentially a beef stew that highlights one particular vegetable. In this recipe the vegetable is the artichoke, but it could be okra or eggplant or peas. You can start with a package of stew meat from the grocery store, in which case you can skip the meat discussion between the two green stars.

Green Star

I always follow the dictates of my beloved Cook’s Illustrated magazine, and so I’m going to start with a chuck roast which I trim and cut up into stew-sized pieces.

According to Cook’s Illustrated (you know, the people who do America’s Test Kitchen on TV) the best meat for stew comes from shoulder cuts. These have sufficient collagen and fat-marbling to not only withstand long, slow cooking, but to be actually improved by it. Your more expensive, more tender cuts will just get tough and dry if you try to cook them for a long time. Prepackaged stew meat from the grocer may well be from the shoulder, but the advantages to buying a roast and cutting it up yourself are threefold:

1. All pieces come from the exact same cut of meat, hence have similar cooking requirements.
2. You can trim the fat thoroughly.
3. You can cut the pieces to be larger and more evenly sized than they are likely to be in a package.

Common names of some shoulder cuts in the U.S. are: blade roast, top blade roast, flat iron steak, 7-bone roast, chuck roast, chuck eye roast, center cut pot roast. If you’re not in the U.S., I’d love for you to leave a comment giving the names of beef shoulder cuts. Even if you are in the U.S., names are not standardized across the country, so please weigh in with your local nomenclature.

The photo above shows a small chuck roast (known as chuck eye roast on the east coast) with its typical seam of fat and gristle running across the center. In the photo below, I’ve split the roast along this seam. I was able to split it by simply pulling it apart with my hands; for a larger roast I might have needed the aid of a knife.

Split the chuck roast along the fat seam for beef with artichokes moschari-me-agkinares

The nice thing about splitting the roast along its major fat seam is that now the main fat deposits are on the exterior and may be easily trimmed off before cutting the roast into stew-sized pieces. Try to make roughly two-inch pieces. They’ll be irregular and somewhat unevenly sized; you can’t help that, so don’t stress about it. Don’t worry, this is going to be really good! :-)

Green Star

Grate the tomatoes, coarsely chop the onion, and season the meat generously with salt and pepper.

Beef, onion and tomatoes for moschari-me-agkinares

Heat the oil in a dutch oven or heavy pot over high heat until it’s hot and fragrant, then put in the meat.

Add beef to hot oil for beef with artichokes moschari-me-agkinares

When the meat is nicely seared on the first side, about 3-4 minutes, turn it over. If the meat sticks and doesn’t want to be turned, that means it’s not well-seared. It will release when it’s ready to be turned over.

Turn the beef when the first side has browned for beef with artichokes moschari-me-agkinares

Cook the second side for a few minutes so that it too is well-browned, then add the onions.

Add onions to the browned beef for moschari-me-agkinares

Saute the onions with the beef for a few minutes, stirring frequently.

Saute the onions with the beef for about 5 minutes for moschari-me-agkinares

Add the grated tomatoes and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan to get the flavorful browned bits into the sauce. If the tomatoes don’t cover the beef completely, add some water so that it is covered. We’re not making soup, but still, it’s better to err on the side of having a bit too much liquid. It’s a little hard to tell from the photos, but if you look at the photo immediately below, you can see some meat corners sticking up out of the liquid. We added some water, and you can see that in the next photo, no meat is visible.

Add the grated tomatoes to the beef for moschari-me-agkinares

Add water if necessary to cover the beef for moschari-me-agkinares

Bring the liquid to a boil, then turn the heat down, cover, and maintain a simmer. Simmer covered for about 1 1/2 hours. In the meantime, we’ll prepare the herbs and artichokes.

I bought a package of 9 baby artichokes to go with the meat, and I was mocked (mocked, I tell you!) for my naivete in thinking they would be sufficient. What can I say, I’ve never trimmed fresh artichokes down to the heart before. I’ve always used frozen artichoke hearts, and you can too if you want. Two 1-pound packages should be about right. Anyway, I went back to the store and bought 6 more artichokes, large ones this time.

Artichokes for moschari-me-agkinares

The following links give better instructions and photos than I could supply for dealing with the artichokes.

Cleaning large artichokes to obtain artichoke hearts.

Trimming baby artichokes for cooking.

As soon as you trim each artichoke, pop it into a bowl of water to which you’ve added a couple of squirts of lemon juice. This keeps the artichokes from turning dark brown. As you can see below, neither Zoe nor I were fast enough with a knife to prevent browning while we were trimming, but at least they didn’t get too dark.

We’ve also sliced two bunches of green onions and chopped one bunch of dill.

Artichokes, scallions and dill for beef wth artichokes moschari-me-agkinares

When the meat has simmered for about 1 1/2 hours, add the artichokes, green onions and dill, and stir them in. Add salt and pepper to taste. You may want to add some more water to make sure there’s enough cooking liquid for the artichokes. Again, err on the side of a bit too much liquid if you’re not sure. Anyway, the liquid will taste heavenly soaked up with bread!

Adding the artichokes, scallions and dill to beef with artichokes moschari-me-agkinares

In the picture below, we’ve added a bit of water.

Adding a bit more water to help the artichokes cook moschari-me-agkinares

Cover and simmer until the artichokes are soft, about 30-45 minutes.

The dish is done when the artichokes are done.

When the artichokes are done, the whole dish is done!

My question for you:

What cut of beef do you recommend for beef stews such as this one? What is your preferred cut called where you are? Please leave a comment if you have an answer!

35 Comments »

  1. Comment by Bellini Valli

    The information about preparing artichokes was very helpful Lulu. Cooks Illustrated has such reliable recipes…they never fail:D

  2. Comment by lulu

    I agree, Cook’s Illustrated is totally awesome!

  3. Comment by lulu

    Before I go to sleep I should mention that I know moschari means veal. I deliberately used the word beef instead, and should probably post about why. But for now, g’night!

  4. Comment by kat

    That looks delicious. If I could get someone to cook for me, that’d be ideal. I’ve got cook’s fatigue. ;)

  5. Comment by Peter Minaki

    Lulu, nice to see you cooking with aginares too! As for beef cuts, sirloin, cross-rib roast or chuck are all worthy and full of flavour.

  6. Comment by lulu

    Ah, cook’s fatigue! Kat, I know that one well! Good thing this dish was good for a couple of days so I got a day off.

  7. Comment by lulu

    Thanks, Peter. We have cross-rib roast here too, but I’ve never gotten it, mostly because I didn’t now what to do with it.

  8. Comment by dubaibilly

    Hi Lulu, at last - meat! This sounds fantastic, I’ve just told Mrs DB about it and I think we may be trying this recipe soon. Mrs DB says she will probably use shin and cook if for a bit longer.

    I think fresh artichokes are a bit expensive out here - certainly I wouldn’t have thought about a dozen of them! So I guess we will have to search for frozen ones - I’ve seen canned artichoke hearts before here, I guess they won’t have the same flavour but they may do at a pinch.

    If I can get Mrs DB to make it, I’ll let you know what we thought.

    Cheers

    DB

  9. Comment by lulu

    Hey, DB! :-) I haven’t used canned ones, but the sauce has so much flavor that I bet this would even be good with canned artichoke hearts. I would just check them for softness straight from the can, and if they seem already soft enough to eat, I’d probably wait to add them 15 minutes or so before the dish is done. Do still put the green onions and dill in about half an hour before the meat is done. You want the meat to simmer for a total of about 2 hours, you can work backwards from there.

  10. Comment by FoodJunkie

    Good god, can you come and cook for me please? I love beef with artichokes.

  11. Comment by Lulu

    @10 Sure, Jo! I’ll be there at 18:00, ready to cover your entire kitchen in a fine mist of oil droplets. :-)

  12. Comment by Ivy

    This is absolutely delicious but I hate the artichoke cleaning part and only cook it maybe once a year. I usually use frozen artichokes.

  13. Comment by Lulu

    Hi Ivy! I was less than thrilled about the artichoke cleaning myself. I’d never done it before, and now I know why!

  14. Comment by Marc @ NoRecipes

    Yumm that looks delicious! I like using cheaper cuts of beef such as chuck for stews since they have more flavor and the extra fat keeps the meat moist.

  15. Comment by FoodJunkie

    The problem is that frozen artichokes taste nothing like fresh ones. I think fresh artichokes as so good that they are worth the effort. Ok, perhaps not for everyday, but when they are in season I try to eat them as much as possible! You know the best part about cleaning them is that you can nibble on the bottom part of the more tender leaves before throwing them away. Cretans do that a lot, maria can testify. You get weird black lips too.

  16. Comment by ivy

    I have something for you at my blog.

  17. Comment by Lulu

    @14 Welcome, Marc, Thanks for visiting! Yes, that’s exactly why chuck is so good, I should’ve explained that in my post. :-)

  18. Comment by Lulu

    @15 Ioanna, “weird black lips” is all I need to know, I’m trying it!

  19. Comment by Lulu

    @16 How mysterious, Ivy! I’ll come over and check!

  20. Comment by Paula

    I found your blog via Kalyn’s Kitchen. This recipe looks so good and I love your step by step photos! I followed your link on grating tomatoes … thanks for the tip.

  21. Comment by Lulu

    Welcome, Paula, thanks! I see from your blog that you’re in the Pacific Northwest. You should check out Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska. It’s got great recipes with a PNW slant, even edible native plants.

  22. Comment by Anne Florenzano

    I swear I can smell this cooking thru my laptop!

  23. Comment by Lulu

    Hi Anne, thanks for visiting! You might want to get your laptop checked. ;-)

  24. Comment by Cheryl

    Hey Lulu! I love this recipe- I’ve made dishes similar to this but not with artichokes.
    I’ve tagged you for a meme if you’re up to it.

  25. Comment by Lulu

    @24 Cheryl: Yes, there are lots of dishes in the “moschari me” category.

  26. Comment by Ivy

    Hi Lulu,
    Please visit my post and see the update on Bri and read the message Bee has left for you.

    http://kopiaste.blogspot.com/2008/06/one-perfect-ingredient.html

    Thanks very much my friend for being so generous.

  27. Comment by Rhyleysgranny

    This looks truly delicious. I love to make stews. Have you ever tried shin of beef? I find it the most forgiving of all the cuts for long slow cooking. You have a lovely blog. I will come back and visit. Thank you for leaving a comment on mine.

  28. Comment by Lulu

    Hi Rhylesgranny, welcome! I have never tried shin of beef, but it makes total sense that it would be a good cut for a slow braise. I’ll have to give it a try. :-)

  29. Comment by James

    I always go for shin too - it has a far stronger flavour and softer (when cooked to oblivion) texture than chuck. I’m picking some up from my local farm on Thursday. Wonder if there’ll be any left to try this. Maybe I’ll get extra. Looks too good to miss…..
    I was always taught to bend the artichoke stems till they snap - that way the stem pulls out some of those fibrous ‘hairs’ out of the base of the stem which are always annoying when you eat them like the ’string’ on celery. And I don’t bother pulling the leaves off I cut them with a strong serrated knife after watching the market stall holders in Italy - there’s a quick way for everything.

  30. Comment by Lulu

    @29 James, I was not really happy with the results of my first experience at cleaning artichokes. I don’t want fibers in this kind of dish at all! I may be consulting with you about ths if that’s okay. I know what you mean about the stem thingy. I want to do some experimenting with stuff like that and make a report on my findings, because I’m a frustrated scientist and all. :-)

  31. Comment by Kevin

    That looks tasty. I have been wanting to use artichokes more.

    Kevin’s last blog post..Jamaican Jerk Chicken

  32. Comment by Lulu

    @31 Kevin - Yes, this is a great dish. Greeks also make a nice dish of peas and artichokes that I should try to post soon.

  33. Comment by lisa K

    I love this recipe. First time I used fresh artichokes but it was a PITA to clean and cup them. Second time around I used frozen - Birds Eye Frozen Artichoke Hearts in a box (next to peas and corn in supermarket). 4.29/ box but so worth it. Love this recipe and my husband loves anything you can dip bread into hahhah.

  34. Comment by Paul T. Hannah

    Looks so flavourful, what a great stew. What is that on the side, looks like some sort of squash?

  35. Comment by William Coleman

    This is an excellent recipe. It also works extremely well with Leg of Lamb.

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