Sometimes we need a little comfort. In my case, a dose of comfort included some hefty nutrition. So I ventured to Costco to buy tons of great food now that I’m over the flu at last. I bought enough stuff to feed a family of six for a week! I suppose that is the “Costco curse”.
I was happy to see USDA Choice chuck stew meat, so I bought a 4 pound packet. Then I pounced on a sack of Peru sweet onions from Bland Farms, my family’s favorite purveyor of Vidalia onions. In the blissfully chilly vegetable room I found butternut squash and a tub of crimini mushrooms. Then in the wine bins I chanced upon a very decent Louis Martini Cabernet Sauvignon at a reasonable $15 (normally $35).
After a visit to the Rainbow Co-op (coupon day!!) to completely pack my fridge, I started my stew, with a twist.
In my largest Dutch oven, the gorgeous 7 qt Staub pumpkin, I browned the beef very well on all sides. Four pounds of beef browned in this manner took about 45 minutes.
When the beef was browned and removed, I cooked off the pork belly and reserved it. I added the mushrooms and squash and browned those well, then added everything else, plus salt, pepper, a beautiful bay leaf from Tess from the swap, and some random herbiage.
(quartered crimini mushrooms, browning in the pork fat. When they expressed their juice and that was reduced, I added the squash and the rest of the stew ingredients)
Off it went in the oven at 325 F to simmer gently for 3 hours. Meanwhile, I had a glass of the wine.
The beef turned unctuous and tender in the wine and beer. The squash and onion melted in the slow braise, thickening the broth, their sweetness tempering the strong dry red wine. The richness of the Guinness mellows the broth, offsetting the wineyness. The mushrooms, carrots and celery became fork-tender, soft vegetal nuggets, perfect bite size. The broth was thickened a bit with a beurre manie, a paste of soft butter and flour, whisked onto the simmering stew. A handful of parsley at the end brightened up the flavors.
I am contemplating adding a dollop of mashed potatoes to the bottom of my wide soup plate before ladling in a scoop of rich stew. Would this be overkill, or a perfect foil to this shimmering, beefy fall stew?
Your thoughts please…