How It All Started

Bob Phillips

The title of this blog was inspired by one of my Spanish professor's at Miami University of Ohio, Dr. Robert Phillips, who died in the e...

Monday, October 15, 2012

Autumn Stew

We have no photo of the meal itself (beef stew is delicious but not photogenic). Instead, I staged the items that were on the table for our meal, as a reminder that centerpieces are not just for weddings! In fact, however, this lantern is repurposed from the wedding of a friend last year. We usually have a candle in it, but for the season we have filled it with miniature pumpkins from Hanson Farm  The tea lights are indeed resting on coffee beans.

Our plans for a stew on Sunday evening were delayed by an historic opportunity -- the last day of the premiere of Jack Kerouac's Beat Generation in his home town of Lowell. It was an enjoyable bit of time travel -- followed by a foliage-rich and sunny drive home along I-495 and the outer western suburbs of Boston.

It meant for a somewhat rushed (two hours instead of three or four) preparation of beef stew, based loosely on a recipe by Amy Sedaris. Yes, the twisted sister of David Sedaris has a cookbook -- more of a lifestyle book -- entitled I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence, and its recipes are actually safe to use!

Page 254 features "What's Your Beef, Stew?" I started by not using a pound of sirloin steak tips from Northeast Family Farms in place of the cubed chuck. This grain-fed beef arrives marinaded in ginger and teriyaki, providing an exceptionally tender and flavorful base for the stew. I browned it in olive oil as I added  several table spoons of flour (less than Sedaris called for), skipping the shake-and-bake method she suggests as well. I sauteed an onions with the beef and then added water to simmer for an hour. (Sedaris calls for more and she is correct, but we did want to eat while we were still awake!)

Then I added potatoes, more onions, and carrots, and simmered for another 45 minutes. Actually, I failed to turn down the stove, so it was more of a continued boil (covered, thankfully) than a simmer. The result, however, was a rich, flavorful broth infused with ginger and the added pepper and paprika. Pam made delicious biscuits (see our chicken chowder post). Pam used a 50/50 mix of white and wheat flour, which was perfect!

Speaking of perfect, both the biscuits and the stew were very happily paired with our own baralo, a red wine that is maturing beautifully in our basement. The pairing was made even more perfect by the fact that I included about a half cup from the wine we had set aside on bottling day. Anytime we can cook with the beer or wine we are serving, we do so. We have never regretted it.

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