Wow. You guys are, just… well… wow! I don’t know what to say except for a heartfelt “Thank You!!” I didn’t expect this much support and of such caliber. In those moments when I get a little scared and doubtful, I just go and reread your comments and emails. Thank you for being so supportive and encouraging. It means more than I can put into words, which is a funny way to be for someone who relies on language so much. All I can say is that you make this little wee space here very much worth while. You make it what it is. And I am so so grateful each and everyday. To you. For you. I am so excited to be taking this plunge, and, in a way, taking you on this journey with me. It’ll be fun, I think. We can revel in the good, and find humor in the bad, and hopefully in the end, it all will fall into its proper place.
I wanted to share this beef stew with you tomorrow. To write today and take some time to edit, but if you’re in the New York area, or anywhere where it’s cold and snowy, this will come in handy tonight. It’s my way of thanking you for being so wonderful. So if you see any typos here, please forgive me.
Because it’s snowing and I feel like snow is the perfect kind of stew weather, I want to give you this today. Beef stew, no matter how you make it, makes the house smell simply amazing, and is the kind of thing that begs to be ladled over buttery egg noodles. My favorite part is when I’ve finished all the beef, and have some sauce and noodles left in the bowl. I eat the noodles with a spoon, and, if I’m eating alone, always slurp the noodles; somehow it makes for a more satisfying meal. At this very moment, however, I’m sitting in a windowless office, staring at a window all the way across the hall and watching the snow fall softly.
The beauty of this stew is that it’s so humble, I bet most of the ingredients are already hiding out in your pantry, which means you don’t need to create an extensive shopping list, nor run all over the neighborhood shopping for ingredients. Stews like this one are must these months, because sometimes (read: most of the time) you really don’t want to go out and pick up the extra groceries.
Instead, it’s the kind of thing you can pull together while rummaging around in your crisper, your cupboards, and your freezer. I adapted a few things from the version from the amazing ladies behind the Canal House cookbooks, namely, the addition of anchovies to the stew. Anchovy-haters, please trust me on this – you won’t taste the anchovies themselves, I promise you that much. But what the anchovies will do is give your stew a deeper taste, more dimension. The stew gets a little fussy at the end, with all the straining and thickening of the sauce, but if you trust me, and by now I hope you do, it’s well worth it. You’ll be rewarded with a sauce, so rich and flavorful, it’ll be fit for a king.
And while stew might be a modest way to thank someone, it’s an honest dish, without any pretenses. A good, reliable meal to get you through the slush and snow – great because it’s got so much potential: dinner tonight and lunch tomorrow; or tucked-away frozen portions for nights when you won’t have time to cook. The internet is a vast and beautiful place – it has brought us all together across state lines, country borders, and continents. If I could, I would give each and everyone of you a real-life, huge hug. But since that’s not really possible, I offer you this stew instead – consider it the virtual hug-and-thanks equivalent.
Not in the mood for beef? Here are a few other cozy winter dinners:
Cider Braised Pork Shoulder With Caramelized Onions
Chicken Braised in Milk
Beef Stew with Carrots
Adapted from Canal House
1 3-pound chuck steak, cut into 16 pieces, or stew meat
Salt and pepper to season meat
¾ to 1 cup flour
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large yellow onions, sliced into thin slivers
2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
6 anchovy fillets, minced
6 dried apricots
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
3 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
3 cups vegetable stock
1 cup red wine
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
In an 8×13-inch baking dish (makes for easier coating), stir together the flour along with salt and pepper. Roll the beef in the flour and share off any excess. In a large Dutch oven, or a heavy-bottomed large pot, heat toil over medium heat. Add beef in batches and brown it on all sides. Remove from the pot and set aside. Add the onions, garlic, and anchovies to the pot and cook until the onions grow soft and translucent – about 10 minutes.
Return beef to the pot and add the remaining ingredients. Bring everything to a simmer over medium-high heat, cover, and put in the oven, letting the stew cook until the meat is tender, about 3 hours. Remove from the oven.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat and vegetables to a large bowl. Skim the fat off the surface of the sauce using a large spoon, and then strain the sauce through a fine sieve into another bowl large enough for the liquid. Push any of the solids through the screen. Return the strained sauce to the pot and cook over medium-high heat until it thickens slightly. Meanwhile, prepare the noodles according to package instructions. Return the meat and carrots to the pot. Taste and season if needed, and serve over hot, buttered noodles.