Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pre-Thanksgiving Stew

With Thanksgiving just a couple of days away, and nights chilly enough for something substantial to follow the previously posted adobo (which disappeared without a trace), I built the first beef stew of the season. This has always been something I made intuitively, but for my daughter and a surprisingly large following who don't have the same intuuition, I finally put it down on paper and here.
This recipe makes enough for at least four people. Most of the things I make are intended for about that many portions, and I am not good at making meals for just myself.
1 pound of beef sirloin, cut into cubes.
1 10-ounce bag of pearl onions
1 pound of baby carrots (peeled and washed
1 stalk of celery, de-stringed and cut lengthwise, then into half-inch bits
1 pound of baby potatoes. Core out the eyes but save as much peeling as you can, as this is the part that has lots of vitamins and minerals.
4-5 ounces of sliced mushrooms (four or five large mushrooms)
1/2 clove of garlic, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. mixed herbs if already prepared, or 1/3 cup if chopped from fresh ingredients, such as sage, basil, parsley, rosemary, thyme and oregano.
Three whole bay leaves
1 tsp. ground black pepper, plus 1/2 tsp. ground five-color pepper.
1 each beef boullion and vegetable boullion cubes

The Prep
Dredge the beef chunks in a mixture of two tablespoons of flour, the herbs and pepper.
Prepare a large pot with a blend of half canola oil and half olive oil, enough to cover the bottom of the pan.
Brown the beef cubes on all sides and stir in the sliced garlic. This uses relatively high heat, so stir often to prevent sticking or burning. Add a splash of wine, stir again, then add the rest of the flour mixture and the boullion cubes. Cover the beef cubes with water, add a splash of red wine and let the beef simmer briefly. Uncover, add the potatoes, carrots, mushrooms and celery, and enough water to come just to the top of the potatoes. Add the bay leaves, cover and turn heat down to low to simmer for at least an hour, stirring now and then.
The wine for this was Golorado Grand Valley DeBeque Canyon Red Fox Merlot, vintage 2003. This has 13 percent alcohol, which is good for bringing out the flavor of decent beef without overwhelming it. It is also a darn good drinking wine, fairly bold with ripe fruit and a plum-like finish that makes the stew broth worth enjoying with some crusty French bread and, as I like to say, "more wine."
Bon apetit!