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Thursday, January 2, 2020

Uzbek Plov, Beef and rice stew

Rich and delicious beef pilaf with garlic
Taste: 4 (out of 5)
Difficulty: 3 (out of 5)
Source: Inspired by varied sources, mostly by Video Culinary

- 1 kg stewing beef, cut into 5 cm cubes
- 1 kg basmati rice
- 1 kg carrots, cut into 1/2 cm thick strips
- 1/2 kg of onions, sliced into half rings
- 2 heads of garlic, whole, outer loose skin peeled off
- 200 ml cooking oil
- 1 l cold water
- 2 tbsp salt
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- up to 1 l of boiling water
Serves 10.

1. In a large bowl, rinse the rice with cold water to wash away the starch. This will help keep the rice grains separate in the final product. You might have to rinse the rice 3-5 times, until the water is clear. Cover the rice with more cold water so that the water reaches about 3 cm above the rice and let soak for 2-3 hours. Do not empty the water until you are ready to cook the rice, or the rice might get brittle.
2. In a large Dutch oven heat the oil on very high heat until it simmers and white smoke appears above the pot. Slowly (to prevent oil from splashing) place the meat into the oil. Sprinkle meat with salt as soon as all the meat is in the pot. This is supposed to make it tender. Cook on high heat, stirring, until the meat is golden brown and a crust forms.
3. Add the onions to the meat and cook, stirring, until the onions are golden brown.
4. Add the carrots, stir, add the salt and the spices, and stir more. Add 1 liter of cold water to the pot, stir to make sure all the meat is submerged. Bring the water to a boil on high heat. Reduce the heat to the lowest possible while maintaining the simmer, and simmer for 2 hours, stirring several times throughout. At the end of the 2 hours taste the liquid for salt and spices. It should be just a little too salty, to account for the addition of the rice. Add the garlic to the stew, root side down, and let it float close to the surface, don’t submerge.
5. Boil a kettle of water. Pour the water out from the bowl of soaking rice and transfer the rice into the pot on top of the meat-carrot layer. Flatten the top of the rice carefully. Slowly add enough boiling water to the rice so that it covers the rice by 1.5-2 cm. Increase the heat to high and cook until all the water evaporates. Do not stir.
6. When there is no more water to be seen, gather the rice into a dome shape in the center of the pot. Be careful not to mix the rice with carrots and meat. With a long wooden spoon poke 5-6 holes in the rice all the way to the bottom of the pot. Cook more until the water from around the rice dome and from the holes evaporates too.
7. Reduce the heat to low. Wrap the lid in a kitchen towel or place a paper towel between the lid and the pot and cook covered for 30-40 minutes. The towel will soak in the vapor and prevent it from dripping back into the rice.
8. When the plov is cooked remove it from the heat and let stand covered for another 10 minutes. Remove the lid, carefully open up the rice layer to extract the garlic heads. Carefully mix the layers of the rice and the meat and serve with the cooked garlic on the side.

This plov takes 3 hours to cook with a lot of steps, and contains humongous amounts of oil, but the final result is really rich and delicious. Worth the time and the calories on a cold winter night.

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