Rooibos Beef Stew with Sweet Potatoes

Recipe for The Daring Kitchen
Sarah from Simply Cooked was our November Daring Cooks’ hostess and she challenged us to create something truly unique in both taste and technique! We learned how to cook using tea with recipes from Tea Cookbook by Tonia George and The New Tea Book by Sara Perry.
From the fragrant sauce of orange peel, ginger and cinnamon sticks, this beef stew screams holiday delight like no other.  Typically, when I’m prepping for a Daring Kitchen Challenge where I don’t get to choose the exact recipe that I follow for the challenge, I have a bit of a notion as to how it’ll turn out.  From all the time spent in the kitchen, I can usually gauge how well or poorly I’ll be able to execute the dish, and what the resulting taste profile will be like.  Let me tell you – this stew knocked my friggin’ socks off.  I went into it thinking, “Beef stew with sweet potatoes…this’ll be warm and comforting and simply homey.”  Boy, was I wrong – in addition to all of those things, this stew was heady with spices and full of complex flavors.  Almost floral at times.  And the rooibos tea forms a stock that is spicy and rich and glorious.  I immediately made a mental note to save this recipe for friends and loved ones, because it embodied all I love about my favorite dishes.  It personified the melding of seemingly ordinary ingredients into something novel and special – a dish worth savoring for just a little bit longer.

Have I gushed enough?  I promise, I don’t work for the International Rooibos Beef Stew Council.  Because I like to eat quickly, I made mine in the pressure cooker – 15 minutes on high pressure and then let the pot release the pressure naturally for meltingly tender beef.  However, for all you non-pressure cooker darlings, I’ve left the instructions below for cooking in a good ol’ fashioned stock pot.  However you cook it, enjoy the dickens out of this one – it is resplendent.

Rooibos Beef Stew with Sweet Potatoes

Rooibos tea is an herbal infusion from South Africa. Also called red tea, redbush tea, or honeybush tea, it is honey-flavored and light colored. It is gaining popularity because it is low in bitter tannins and caffeine-free. It can be substituted in this recipe by black tea, or try another dark herbal tea such as one containing licorice.

5 rooibos tea bags (or 2 tablespoons loose tea leaves)
1 quart of boiling water
2 pounds of stewing beef, trimmed and cut into 2-inch chunks
2 tablespoons of flour
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon of olive oil
2 onions, sliced
2 celery stalks, sliced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
5 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
4 strips unwaxed orange peel, pith removed (the peel of about half an orange)
2 cinnamon sticks
2 inches of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
4 small sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
¾ cup of mild honey (optional)
cilantro leaves, to garnish

Season the beef and coat in the flour. Heat the oil in a large stock pot and then brown the beef on all sides.  Add the onions and celery. Put on a tight fitting lid and let soften for ten minutes.  Add the garlic and tomato concentrate and cook for one minute.

Meanwhile, place the tea bags in a heatproof pitcher and pour over the water. Allow to steep for four minutes. Then remove the tea bags (or strain out the tea leaves) and pour the tea into the stock pot. Add the red wine vinegar, orange peel, cinnamon sticks, and ginger.  Lower the heat and cover. Let the stew simmer for 2 hours, until the beef is tender.

Add the sweet potatoes, honey (if using), and season with salt and pepper. Cook for a further 30 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are soft.  Serve garnished with chopped cilantro.

8 thoughts on “Rooibos Beef Stew with Sweet Potatoes”

  1. Oooh, I really wanted to make this one but couldn't find rooibos tea. It looks fantastic. Do you know of any other kind of tea that would work well in this?

    1. I think what was so special about it was that the tea was so fragrant. I would try a tea with both strength and flowery notes – ceylon black tea or oolong would probably be amazing. I also noticed that Celestial Seasonings (generic, I know) makes red tea now, and the main ingredient is Rooibos. That might be easier to snag. Happy cooking!

    1. I really really really had no idea how much I was going to love this one. It was marvelous. I don't think there's any rule against cooking it now and posting 😉

    1. You're too sweet – it was a smashing recipe. I just tossed everything in the pressure cooker and let it meld into majesty 😉

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