In Gullah cooking, adding seafood to a meat stew is not unusual, as fish and shellfish are so abundant. Here, beef brisket and short ribs are combined with calamari for an unexpected and pleasant taste and texture. Serve over grits or polenta.
3 Tbs. olive oil; more as needed
2 lb. beef brisket, trimmed and cut into 1-1/2-inch pieces
1-1/2 lb. boneless beef short ribs, trimmed and cut into 1-1/2-inch pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 large cloves garlic, grated
2 large sweet onions, coarsely chopped (about 3-1/4 cups)
1 large jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
1/4 cup tomato paste
4 large tomatoes, peeled, cored, and roughly chopped (about 5-1/2 cups)
1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, undrained and crushed by hand
1 cup unsalted beef stock
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 lb. calamari, cut into 3/4-inch rings (optional)
1 large green bell pepper, coarsely chopped (about 1-1/2 cups)
Heat the oil in a 7-quart Dutch oven or other large heavy-duty pot over medium-high heat. Pat the brisket and ribs dry, and season with salt and pepper. Brown the meat in batches, adjusting the heat and adding more oil as necessary; each batch should take 8 to 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the brisket and rib meat to separate plates.
Reduce the heat to medium. Add the garlic, 2/3 of the chopped onions, and the jalapeño, and cook, stirring and scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon, until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes. Stir in the fresh and canned tomatoes, stock, and thyme. Return the brisket with any accumulated juice to the pot. Add the calamari, if using. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the rib meat and any accumulated juice and continue to simmer, covered, until the meat is nearly tender, about 1 hour. Add the remaining onion, the bell pepper, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper, and cook, covered, until the meat and calamari are very tender, 45 to 60 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat from the pot to a large bowl. If necessary, skim any fat from the surface of the liquid. Increase the heat to medium high and reduce the liquid to about 2-2/3 cups. Return the meat to the pot, and gently stir until well coated with the sauce.