In Russian language, we have one word “tomlenie”, which is similar to the word “stewing”, but has a significant distinction. Tomlenie is a slow-cooking process of meat, fish or vegetables in Russian petch (oven/stove, have a look at the pictures of traditional Russian petch here and here).
Nowadays traditional Russian ovens can be found only in out-of-the-way places (villages and provinces, located in the remotest depths of the country).
It’s considered that, slow-cooking in the common oven is close to the “tomlenie” process, but the real taste and aroma of dishes prepared in Russian petch couldn’t be done anywhere else.
Let’s try to prepare the closest dish.
First off all, we need a clay pot with a lid.
Be patient! Stewing will take several hours.
Don’t worry! During this time you don’t need to check or mix the dish every 10-20 minutes, thus you can have a break and watch your favorite movie, and even prepare a side dish. 🙂
Ingredients to feed 4 people:
Beef, cutted into 2-3cm cubes – 700g/1lb
Golden onion – 1 big, sliced
Pitted prunes – 150g/5 oz
Cherry fresh or frozen – 150g/5 oz
Sunflower or olive oil for frying- 1 tbsp
Cinnamon – 1/2 tsp
Sugar – 1 tbsp
Bay leaves – 2
Whole black peppercorns – 8-10
Salt, pepper – to taste
Few springs of parsley, chopped
- Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry onion for 5-7 minutes, add beef cubes and fry until slightly browned.
- Sprinkle the meat with sugar and cinnamon.
- Put the meat in a clay pot, add boiling water (just to cover the meat), bay leaves and peppercorns. Season with salt and pepper.
- Don’t forget to close the pot with a lid! 🙂
- Transfer to a preheated oven, 200C/400F, for 2 hours.
- Check the quantity of the liquid, and add some more water – if desired (the meat always should be in the broth).
- Reduce temperature to 180C/380F and return to the oven for a further 1 hour.
- Add prunes and cherries (no need to defrost), check the seasoning and return again to the oven for 30 minutes.
- Switch the oven off and leave the pot in it (until the oven is still warm).
- Sprinkle with fresh parsley.
The good garnish to such meat is a buckwheat porridge, mashed or boiled potatoes. It could be served with broth; in a clay pot or on a serving plate.
Enjoy the holiday dinner! 🙂
If you don’t have clay pot-use casserole.
If your pot don’t have a lid -cover the pot with foil.
Replace cherries with cranberries.
Omit the sugar.
Spice the meat with 1/3 tsp of crushed cardamom, it brings a nice interesting note.
You can add 2-3 tbsp of dry red wine for the better taste (after the frying meat).