Friday, June 3, 2011

On The Cusp

Here we are on the cusp of spring turning to summer, and we're still eating stew. What's wrong with this picture? The weather is wrong, that's what.

When I grilled the cross-rib roast that acted more like shoe leather than like edible food, I decided to make stew out of the leftovers rather than wear out our choppers. I have always loved Julia Child's recipe for Boeuf Bourguignon with its layers of rich flavor, so that's my go-to recipe when I'm making stew. I've made it so many times that I don't really get out the book any more, just nod toward heaven and thank Julia for all she has done to make life delicious.

For this stew, I hauled out my heavy, enameled Dutch oven, even though it's really too large for the amount of stew I was planning to make. For perfecting stew, there is no better vessel. I had a bit of a head start on the stew, since the meat was partly cooked, but I started from scratch anyway, to build the flavors.

Made fake lardons by slicing bacon across the grain and rendered them over a low flame before adding the beef cubes to brown. After serious browning, I added a cup each of red wine (a Cab, in this case) and beef stock (made with a cool new-to-me product, Better Than Bouillon) and covered the pot to simmer for a couple of hours. While that happened, I cleaned and sautéed in butter some whole mushroom caps and stems, then set them aside while I browned an onion, sliced through the root end, in the same pan before returning the shrooms and their juices back to the pan.

When the meat was tender, removed it and thickened the goozle with a tablespoon or so of flour that had been cooked in an equal amount of butter so it didn't taste gluey. When the goozle was thicker, I added back the meat plus the onions and mushrooms, scraping the bowl to get all the good juices, and let that all cook together for another 20 minutes or so, again on low heat.

As we left to walk the dog (it takes about 20-30 minutes depending on how many doggie friends we must sniff and wag with on the way), I threw in some tiny baby carrots, since we are on the cusp of spring, and already-boiled potatoes to heat along with all the rest. When we returned from the walk, it was time to throw in a handful of fresh peas. While they cooked, I set the table and poured a glass of the wine.

No herbs (sorry, Julia). Nothing but S&P at the table and it was perfect. Deeply, richly beefy with that underlying hint of wine and all those perfectly done veggies. Nothing soggy, nothing overcooked, just tender, flavorful beef and both winter and spring vegetables, perfect for a day when it poured, then shone, then poured again. Impatient though I am for warmer weather, while we are still on the cusp of summer I'm enjoying winter cooking.


Blogger cookiecrumb said...

That looks like perfection! Really.
Now, get yourself a two or three quart pot. You'll use it all the time.

Friday, June 03, 2011  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Cookiecrumb, I'm not sure I have room for one more pot, but they really do cook well, don't they?

Saturday, June 04, 2011  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...

Just don't buy Martha Stewart brand. Heavy and junky.

Saturday, June 04, 2011  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Cookiecrumb, no worries. It would either be LeCreuset or Staub, I think.

Saturday, June 04, 2011  
Blogger Greg said...

Wrong weather indeed! Looks like a great meal. I want to grill but the weather is a bear.I predict we will go from rain to extreme heat.

Saturday, June 04, 2011  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Greg, right now, I'm praying for extreme heat! But I reserve the right to kvetch about that when it happens, too.

Saturday, June 04, 2011  

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