This informal beef stew comes from the state of Paraná in southern Brazil, and demonstrates its southern origin by the inclusion of pine nuts (pinhões) which are cultivated in that state, and by the use of beer as a cooking liquid. In the more tropical regions of Brazil, further north, neither beer or wine are used in stews and casseroles, but in southern Brazil, which has a rich tradition of European immigration, both of these alcoholic liquids are common in such dishes. Paraná is home to significant communities of descendants of German, Ukrainian, and Polish settlers, and beer of part of the culinary pantry of the state.
The recipe calls for Brazilian pine nuts, which come from a different family of pines than do the pine nuts commonly available in Europe and North America. Although there will be a slight difference in taste, normal pine nuts may be used in this recipe with great success.
RECIPE - Beef in Beer with Pine Nuts (Carne ao Molho de Cerveja com Pinhão)
2 medium onions, quartered
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 Tbsp. neutral vegetable oil
2 lb (1 kg) chuck steak (acem), cut into 2" (4 cm) cubes
2 tsp. annatto powder (can substitute sweet paprika)
1 Tbsp. Dijon-style mustard
3 bay leaves
2 tsp. dried oregano
6 oz. pilsner or lager beer
1 cup (250 ml) water
salt to taste
1 Tbsp. corn starch
1/4 cup (50 ml) water
1/2 lb (250 gr) pine nuts
Put the onion, garlic and vegetable oil in a blender or food processor and blend completely. Heat a heavy saucepan with cover over medium-high heat, add the blended onion and garlic and cook, stirring constantly just until it begins to brown. Add the chunks of beef, and continue cooking until the meat is browned on all sides.
Add the annatto or paprika, mustard, bay leaves, oregano, the beer and 1 cup of water to the browned meat, plus salt to taste. Bring to a boil, cover the pan, reduce heat and simmer until the meat is tender, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Add additional water if needed to prevent drying out.
Dilute the corn starch in 1/2 cup cold water. Uncover pan, add the corn starch and pine nuts. Continue to simmer with the pan uncovered for about 10 minutes or until the liquid thickens and the pine nuts are heated through.
Serve immediately with potatoes or noodles.
Recipe translated and adapted from Cozinha Regional Brasileira by Abril Editora