Butternut Squash Stew • Khoresh'e Kadu Halvai • خورش کدو حلوای
Recipe by: Fae’s Twist & Tango (fae-magazine.com)
• 680 g/ 1½ lbs beef stewing meat (or lamb, chicken)
• 1 medium onion
• vegetable oil
• 1 small bay leaf
• 4 cups hot water
• 1 medium butternut squash (~ 1150 g/ ~2.5 lbs)
• 280 g/ 10 oz pitted dried plums (26 pieces)
• 1 flat Tbsp tomato paste (no more)
• ½ tsp ground cinnamon
• ½ tsp salt
• pinch (1/16 tsp) pepper
• 4 Tbsp sugar
• 4 Tbsp lime juice
• dash (1/8 tsp) ground saffron dissolved in 1 Tbsp hot water
• 1 Tbsp crispy caramelized onion
◊ Trim fat and sinew from beef, cut in 5 cm/ 2″ square pieces.
◊ Cut onion in half, putting cut side on the board, slice in 6mm/ ¼” thick slices.
In a deep, non-stick pot, add 2 Tbsp oil and put on medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add cut onions. Stir several times, until translucent.
◊ Add cut meat to pot with onion and sear all sides of the meat. Add hot water and bay leaf, lower heat to medium-low and simmer for 1 hour.
◊ Meanwhile, cut, peel and remove seeds of butternut squash. Cut them in 2cm/ ¾” thick rings or 4cm/ 1½” squares.
◊ Fry squash pieces in non-stick deep skillet with 6 Tbsp of oil on medium-high heat (spatter screen may be needed), until golden crust forms on both sides (no more than 2 minutes each side).
◊ In 20 cm x 30 cm/ 8″x12″ oven-safe dish, at least 7.5 cm/3″ deep, spread fried butternut squash pieces. Spread the plums over.
◊ Place rack on middle shelf of oven and preheat oven to 190°C / 375°F.
◊ When meat is semi-cooked (after 1 hour of simmering) add tomato paste, cinnamon, salt, pepper, sugar, lime juice, and saffron water, gently stir and simmer for one more minute. Pour meat mixture over squash and plums.
◊ Cover dish tight with foil, place in oven and bake for 1 hour or until meat is tender.
◊ Sprinkle with caramelized onion before serving. Serve with Persian rice.
~ Noushe jan! • نوش جان ~
A few important points in making an outstanding Persian khoresh:
♦ Don’t skimp on oil… use as much as needed for frying/sautéing. Boiling oil also cooks and adds flavor. It can be skimmed off before serving.
♦ Brown/sear onion and meat very well.
♦ Adding 1/16 ~ 1/8 tsp of ground saffron, dissolved in 1 Tbsp hot water, will substantially add to taste.
♦ Don’t use too much water for cooking, just enough to steam and condense. –Simmer on low heat for a long time. This helps flavor fusion of ingredients.
♦ Best if stew is made a day in advance and refrigerated for taste to meld.
♦ Almost all stews can be frozen. Exception: If stew includes potato(es), potato pieces to be removed before freezing.
♦ There are red  stews (using tomato paste) and green  stews (using herbs). Garnishing red stews sparingly with caramelized onion before serving not only further enhances taste but visually enhances the dish.
 Slang: ‘red’ and ‘green’ are used to specify types of stews or mixed rices, using tomato paste vs. herbs respectively. This concept also helps host/hostess plan an event menu and serve a balance of reds and greens.
So, what’s cooking in your kitchen?