Using Cinnamon in Savory Cooking

Using Cinnamon in Savory Cooking
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We mostly think of cinnamon as a baking or mulling spice, but it's used as a savory spice for cooking main dishes too. Saigon cinnamon is one of the boldest types of the spice and works great for savory recipes, but you can use regular cinnamon in its place. Try one or more of these recipes to get a feel how to use it in dishes.
Spicy Beef and Bean Stew


1/3 cup al-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
black pepper to season
2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1 inch squares
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 (28 ounces) can tomatoes, cut up
1 cup water
2 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 slices orange rind, no white
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 cups sliced or baby carrots
2 (15 ounces) cans chickpeas, drained

Combine the flour, salt and pepper in a plastic bag.. Coat the meat cubes by adding to the bag and shaking till coated. In a large skillet or Dutch oven brown the meat in very hot oil about 10 minutes or until browned. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the undrained tomatoes, water, cinnamon, orange peel, garlic, cumin and sugar. Simmer covered about 1 hour 15 minutes or until meat is almost tender. Add the carrots and cook covered until tender (about 20 minutes). Add the chick peas and cook until heated through. Serve over noodles, rice or couscous.

Beef Empanadas



3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 to 2/3 cups ice water
oil for frying

Filling :

1 medium onion, minced
1/3 cup olive or vegetable oil
2 cups shredded boiled beef (or browned ground beef)
1 large potato, cooked and diced
1/2 cup raisins, chopped
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. cloves
1/8 tsp.ground cumin
salt to taste
1/2 cup herb or wine vinegar, sherry, wine or water

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the shortening with a pastry cutter or finger till it resembles crumbs. Add enough ice water to make the dough stick together. Like with biscuits, do NOT overwork the dough. Thinly roll out dough to about 1/8 inch on a floured surface. Cut into four inch rounds. Set aside or make the filling first if you wish. Sauté onion in oil till softened. Add meat, potato, raisins, seasonings, and salt to taste. Stir and cook to heat through. Pour in the liquid . Place a small amount of filling on one side of each round. Fold over the other half and seal by using a fork Dipped in cold water. Press the edges together with the fork. Allow the pastries to sit for 30 minutes on one side , then turn over and let sit for 30 minutes on the other side to dry and seal edges. Fry in a 1/2 inch or so of hot oil until golden brown on each side. Serve hot or cold. Makes about 20 empanadas

Middle Eastern Eggplant Stew


1 pound beef stew meat into 1-inch cubes
2 onions, sliced very thinly
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 cup olive or vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
2 medium sized eggplants, peeled and quartered lengthwise
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Juice of 2 lemons
1 large tomato, peeled and sliced

In a Dutch oven, brown the meat with the onions and garlic in about 3 tablespoons of oil. Add nutmeg, cinnamon, turmeric, salt and pepper. Pour in 3 cups of water with meat and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour. Sprinkle both sides of eggplant pieces with salt and let it stand 20 minutes. Rinse and pat dry. Sauté the eggplant in a skillet with a tablespoon of oil; set aside. Add tomato paste and lemon juice to the meat, mix well. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Pour the meat and sauce into an ovenproof casserole; arrange eggplant and tomato slices on top. Cover and bake 45 minutes. Serve hot with rice. Serves 6 to 8.

Savory Brown Rice


1 cup brown rice
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 green onions with tops, thinly sliced
1 tsp. caraway seeds
1 cinnamon stick or 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 cups water

Rinse rice several times and drain. In 3-quart pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onions, caraway and cinnamon. Sauté, stirring, until onions are soft, about 3 minutes. Stir in the rice and sauté for an additional minute, add stock and water, bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 30-40 minutes, or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed. Fluff the rice with fork, remove cinnamon stick and serve immediately.


About The Author

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer living on ten acres in rural Michigan with her husband and three kids. She is a mom, grandma, gardener, cook and writer. She blogs on all of these topics at


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