Monday, April 4, 2011

Dinner: Beef Stew

I have a lot of memories of beef stew, which might sound kind of odd - after all, who gets excited about beef stew? - but it's actually one of my favorite dishes, made for me by some of my favorite people.

The last night I spent at my father's house before I went to college, Dad made a big pot of stew.  I loved it when he cooked - the whole house would smell unbelievably good, and he'd have opera or jazz or choral music ringing through the house, and I'd snuggle up under my covers and nap with the whole house pulled around me like a safety blanket.  At any rate, when Dad made beef stew, I felt perfect, at peace.

When I turned 17, by Grandma Joan taught me how to make Irish stew.  Just meat, flour, salt and pepper, and maybe carrots and onions - the simplest dish ever, and the most filling.  That side of the family is direct from Ireland, and cooking a real Irish meal also made me feel perfect, at peace, beautiful.

I've tried to re-create the beefy magic myself, but I haven't quite gotten the knack of it.  However, today I am going for it again - I've got stew meat, homemade beef broth, potatoes, onions, carrots...  I think I can pull it off. I just have to remember to play great music at maximum volume!  

Here's the recipe:

Stew meat (like cubed chuck, or you can use lamb or mutton)
Salt and Pepper
2 bay leaves
1 can Spicy Hot V8
8 cups beef broth OR 6 cups plus 1 Guinness
Onion, chopped
Carrots, chopped
Potatoes, chopped

1.  Place stew meat in a ziplock bag with the flour, salt, and pepper.  Shake until all of the meat is finely coated.  

2.  Heat butter in large pot.  Add garlic and thyme and let cook until aromatic.  Brown beef on all sides.

3.  Add V8, beef broth, and bay leaves.  Stir, bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for one hour.

4.  In a large skillet, melt butter and saute veggies until golden, 20 minutes on medium heat.  Add veggies to stew and simmer, uncovered, for additional 40 minutes.  

5.  Eat it.  Can be served over mashed potatoes.

So that's tonight's dinner!  Wish me well.  I'm going to open all the windows, play some sliding, aching jazz, and make magic.

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