A year or so ago, my friend Liz told me about her favourite comfort dish from her youth: Lebanese Beef and Beans. A slowly cooked stew of beef, tomatoes, onions, and green beans fragrant with garlic and spices. Cinnamon, to be specific. Whoa.
In the intervening year, this has become the go-to comfort food on the coldest days for my hubby and me. It’s the kind of food that makes you clap in anticipation of it.
There’s something magical about the way cinnamon plays with beef. The perfumed sweetness of the cinnamon matches so perfectly with the meaty umami of the beef. They elevate each other in ways that are just plain inexplicable unless you taste them. The sweet acidity of the tomatoes and the sweet power of the onions make it two or three or four steps more wonderful. It’s hard to communicate the comfort this dish delivers.
Think of it as the dish you anticipate comig home to -simmering on the stove top- from whatever services or activities you attend each weekend. You open the door and the scent curls around your face. “Come in! Get cozy and warm yourself!”, it seems to say, “Put on your comfiest clothes and grab a bowl!” It’s one of those dishes.
- I know. I know people get cranky when told to brown beef before putting it in the slow cooker. I get it. People. The slow-cooker is not a magical, mystical bin capable of turning straw into gold. This means that in order to get the flavours you LOVE, you still have to obey the natural laws of cooking. Brown that meat. It’s not like it’s going to seal in the moisture- that’s just a silly old wives’ tale. But the taste of browned meat is no lie. It develops a flavour that just plain can’t happen without browning.
- I love making this on the stove-top when I have time to be home and watch it a bit. It doesn’t take tons of hands-on time, but you do have to stir it occasionally to keep it from sticking. If -however- you’re low on time, you can ABSOLUTELY slow-cook this. Either way is GRAND as long as you brown that beef. Yes, that’s two bullet points for the same issue, but I’m driving this point home, mes amies.
- You have some options for serving this fabulous deliciousness. We love to serve it over rice, but noodles are also wondrous, and if you’re avoiding grains, it’s also great as a stand-alone stew. Anyway you scoop it, it’ll make you happy, happy.
- Super Important Note: Leftovers are ridiculously amazing. I highly advise making a double batch. The flavours meld and marry and become even more impressive after a night or two in the chill chest. This makes it ideal as a reheating option for entertaining!
Lebanese Beef and Beans
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound top or bottom round beef cut into 1-inch cubes
- 6 cloves garlic peeled and sliced
- 2 large onions peeled, halved, and sliced into half moons
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 large cans petite diced tomatoes 32 ounces
- 2 pounds frozen whole green beans or mixed green and yellow beans
- pepper to taste
To Cook on the Stovetop:
Add the olive oil to a large stockpot over medium high heat. Stir in the cubed beef and stir occasionally until browned on all sides. Add the garlic, onions, cinnamon, cumin, salt, and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Drop the heat to low and lid the pan. Cook for 20 minutes. Stir in the green beans, recover the pan, and cook until the beef and beans are all tender. Serve over rice, noodles or alone.
To Cook in the Slow-Cooker:
Add the olive oil to a large skillet over medium high heat. Stir in the cubed beef and stir occasionally until browned on all sides. Scrape the beef and oil into a slow-cooker. Add the garlic, onions, cinnamon, cumin, salt, and tomatoes and cover. Add the remaining ingredients, cover, and cook until the beef and beans are all tender: 4 hours on high or 6 to 8 hours on low. Serve over rice, noodles or alone.