Now that spring has sprung here in the Northeast (Though it's questionable that Winter ever sprung..so Spring Springing is somewhat anti climatic...) I am in the mood for that most seasonable of foods. Beef Stew. Not sure why. Maybe there's a surplus of beef to be had and the Universe if having a sale. Who knows. Don't care. Want Stew.
Good stew. Not Dinty Moore crap ass from a can watery salty nasty can't taste my own tongue for a week beef stew. No. Homemade, stove top to oven takes 5 hours and you eat it for a week beef stew.
Growing up, I do not honestly remember having beef stew. This could be for two reasons. 1) My memory can be crap, and we possibly had it every month. (Doubtful). 2) Beef is Pricey! Feeding 5 kids is not cheap, or easy, and I think the last thing my mom wanted to do was stand in the kitchen for 5 hours making stew that was going to be gone in 3 minutes. Though I do remember her making bread quite a bit.. My first 'memory' of anything close to Beef Stew was a dish that one of my parents made that was whole potatoes, whole carrots, whole onions, and a cut of beef. Probably a brisket. Then they had thrown a can of diced tomatoes, or tomato paste over the dish, covered it and baked it for, oh, forever. It was amazing. Not stew, exactly. But whenever I make beef stew, that's the flavor that I'm aiming for.
I love making stew. It's so satisfying. Taking cheap cuts of meat, turning them into a meal that can last for days with minimal investment. I think it's one of the few forms of cooking that can truly be termed 'lazy'. You literally chop up a bunch of stuff, sear some meat, throw everything together and walk away. For HOURS. How many dishes can you do that with? Not many. Minimal effort. Huge Return. And, done right, the flavor! So many layers of flavors in stew. The bacon (oh yes...always),sear the beef, then the mirepoix, which doesn't really add a single flavor so much as the basis for the stew. Caramelized goodness. Deglaze with wine. Add the potatoes and herbs. Stock. Then tomato. Then my secret ingredient. Which I will now give to you. Secretly. Shhh. Sweet Potato. Just enough so that when it breaks down in the oven it thickens everything up perfectly. Throw in oven. Forget about.
Or Sushi. I'm always up for sushi.