Tavas is a popular dish from the island of Cyprus that is incredibly simple to make and full of robust Mediterranean flavours. The Cypriots often use cinnamon in savoury dishes; they sprinkle it on chicken skin and over potatoes before roasting them and it gives a wonderful layer of flavour to the tomato sauce that the beef and potatoes are braised in here. It’s a dish best served just warm with green vegetables or a salad on the side.
- 1kg chunky slices of beef shin (you could also substitute lamb).
- 500g onions, sliced
- 150ml light olive oil
- 400g can of chopped tomatoes (or chopped and skinned ripe fresh tomatoes)
- 1kg new potatoes, scrubbed and halved or quartered depending on their size
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 dessertspoon of tomato purée
- 250 ml hot water
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- Salt and black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 140°C.
- Heat the oil in a fry pan and sauté the onions for 10 minutes with a pinch of salt until soft and translucent but not browned.
- Place the onions, tomatoes, the water, the oregano, thyme and cinnamon, 1 tsp salt and 1tsp black pepper in a large roasting dish or shallow cast iron casserole. Mix thoroughly and add the thick chunks of beef and potatoes so that they are evenly distributed. Add a little more hot water and stir so the sauce comes to the same level as the the meat and potatoes if it needs it. Cover tightly with a lid or foil. Cook for 3 hours without peeking or stirring. The meat and potatoes should be tender and the sauce thick and delicious – the marbling in shin of beef melts into the sauce and adds both texture and flavour. Check the seasoning before serving.
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