The weather outside is frightful…maybe? I mean everyday since December hit we have been faced with wind, strong wind! Rain, lots of rain, drizzling, and more rain. The temps have been chilly, and each morning when I wake I find myself trying to hold on to my warm and cozy pillow a bit longer. Then I drag myself out of bed, throw myself together, and head out into the unexpected nastiness. In no way am I feeling delightful.
As I walk to work at 5 A.M. it is not uncommon to find my ears numbing from the wind and my nose buried in my scarf by the time I reach the kitchen door. On mornings like this I set up my station and get the pastries underway. It is not uncommon to find warmth next to the ovens and defrost with some INXS or Depeche Mode playing. But when my day in the kitchen is through and I head home, it is time to face the rippling wind and rain again. While it is tolerated, I do admit that I miss those warm days of sunshine we had just a few weeks ago. And if you were to ask me this rain and wind is not really “holiday” feeling. Not quite feeling that festive mood I think I should be in right about now.
So once I’m home it is time to get something cozy and warming on the stove. I’ve been playing around with long and low temperature roasting, along with braising. Both of these make the apartment feel so warm, cozy, and puts a little pizzaz in the dreary days we have faced so far. But the Braising is what I need to tell you about here…Braising!!! The kind that slowly simmers, reduces, and intensifies flavors. The other night for Brian I braised a beef stew in red wine that he described as intensely unami and luscious. It was deep in flavor as the red wine reduced and glazed over the meat and veggies it cooked with. It had herbs and straight forward beefiness that pleases ones soul and makes you feel merry. Possibly we are getting into the holiday vibe, you never know. But what I do know is more braising dishes in the future. Let it snow if it wishes…I’ll stay inside braising away and staying cozy.
Red Wine Beef Stew (serve 6)
**Note: I like to serve this with a creamy polenta. However, potatoes, rice, or crusty bread works well with this dish too.
2 lbs beef stew meat; cubed
5-6 cipollini onions; trimmed, peeled, and halved
3 large carrots; peeled, trimmed, and cut into 2 inch pieces
4 stalks of celery; trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
3 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
2 bay leaves
several stems of fresh parsley
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 bottle of dry red wine
sea salt and black pepper to taste
First, place a dutch oven or large roasting pan fitted with a lid over medium heat. Place your butter and olive oil in the pan. Once the butter is melted add in your veggies and let them sear about 5 minutes. Meantime, tie up your thyme, parsley, and bay leaves together with kitchen twine.
Next, once the veggies are seared and have gotten some caramelization add in the beef. Stir it all together to coat it all and season it with a bit of sea salt and black pepper. Be sure the beef sears on all side. It will take about 8 minutes.
Then, once the beef is seared you can pour the wine over all of it. Along with 2 - 3 cups of water. On top of this you can place your herb bundle and cover it all. Reduce the heat to low, letting it braise away about an hour. Stirring it every once in a while.
Finally, when the wine is reduced and you meat is cooked though remove the pan from the heat. Remove the herb bundle and season it all with sea salt and black pepper to taste. Serve while still warm.