It’s April, and beef stew is so over. Problem is, we’ve still got plenty of beef for braising, and waiting ’til next year seems unwise, especially after our recent experience with year-old pork chops. Mmm. So I let myself to be suckered in by this chile recipe, from Aidell & Kelly’s Complete Meat Cookbook, seeing as how it didn’t really sound like stew and looked pretty darn easy to boot. Turns out to be a keeper. For such a simple preparation, the flavors were tremendous and played wonderfully with stewed beans and sauteed seasonal greens. And I love the minimal effort involved. It could be very easily adapted for a slow cooker if you wish.

Chile Colorado

2 dried ancho or other red chilies / 2 lbs beef stew meat, such as chuck / 1 large onion, chopped / 1 tsp cumin / 1 tsp coriander / 2 cloves garlic, chopped / ½ tsp dried oregano or 2 tsp fresh / 2 cups meat stock or beer

Soak the chilies in hot water for 20 minutes, or until soft. Meanwhile, cut the beef into 1-inch cubes and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat a heavy casserole over medium-high heat. Swirl in vegetable oil when hot and brown cubes in batches, about 6 minutes per batch, then set aside.

When the chilies are ready, remove seeds and stems and place in a food processor along with onion, cumin, coriander, garlic, oregano, and ¼ cup of strained chile soaking liquid or water. Process to a puree. Pour puree into casserole along with browned meat, stock or beer, and enough water to cover the cubes. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down to low and cook for about 3 hours, until beef is tender. Feeds 4-6.