This easy North African inspired meat casserole uses the spice paste from that region, harissa, to give the casserole a great spicy flavour with a hit of heat.
Local Hawke’s Bay growers of chillies and capsicums Orcona make a wonderfully fresh and fragrant harissa which I have used in this dish.
Juniper berries with their clean, refreshing hints of pine, resin and gin add an interesting flavour to the casserole. They are often used in game dishes with their main use as the essential flavouring for gin which dates back to at least the 17th century.
Here in Hawke’s Bay I can usually find juniper berries at the Bin Inn or Indian food stores. Look for them where more unusual and bulk spices are sold.
I was given some lovely diced wild venison and used it for this casserole but any slow cooking meat cut would be suitable – beef or lamb would make an equally tasty dish. If using lamb the cooking will not be as long.
North African Meat Stew
This is another of my one dish meals – simply serve as is or accompany with a salad of mixed leaves or a steamed green vegetable.
500g venison stew meat or beef or lamb
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large (about 200g) onion, chopped
3 sticks celery, chopped
5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 tsp Orcona Harissa paste
1 tsp crushed juniper berries
2 cups beef stock
2 tbsp tomato paste
4 bay leaves
2 green capsicums, coarsely chopped
500g small potatoes, halved or quartered, depending on size
coriander leaves, to garnish (optional)
1 Preheat oven to 150°C. Season meat with salt.
2 Heat oil in an ovenproof dish over a high heat. Brown meat in batches – once brown remove and set aside.
3 Reduce heat to medium add onion, celery and garlic to pan and cook, stirring, for 4-5 minutes or until onion starts to soften. Stir in harissa and juniper berries and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes. Stir in stock, tomato paste and bay leaves and bring to simmering.
4 Return meat to the pan. Transfer to oven and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 hours.
5 Add potatoes and capsicums, return to oven and cook for 1 hour longer or until meat is very tender and potatoes are cooked.
Happy cooking and eating.
Recipe by Rachel Blackmore
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