Wednesday, December 22, 2010

making home

each day i can feel myself become more settled into the new place....and perhaps....come back to myself. i knew something was moving along in the right direction when i unpacked some wine and thought...i really need to do something with some of this wine. there was a bottle in particular that was a carry over from my previous life and somehow managed to travel with me unscathed. well....perhaps, i must confess...that i had this bottle hidden away as it was a gift....a gift that was really for me. we all know those kind of gifts....when you get "couple" gifts but you know who the gift is really for....and lets face it... i used to be really into wine....and slowly i am rediscovering my affection for the wine was really for me.

i've had this bottle for over 6 years and it was time to open it and although many oenophiles are likely absolutely horrified that i cooked with it...i could not think of a better use for a decadent way to help me "break in" my new kitchen and place.

somehow, i think that the person that gave me the bottle....i think he would approve.

after i decided that i was going to use the bottle as a way to celebrate my new space.....i decided to make a hearty comforting beef stew with it. now, some folks may recognize the inspiration behind this dish....but please keep in mind that i use the term "inspiration" quite loosely. again, there will be many people quite horrified with the dish i made. yet, that is one of the great things about being a home cook....i get to make things for my palate.

so i started out with browning salt pork (yes, i said salt pork) with some extra virgin kalamata olive oil.

after i browned the salt pork, i removed it and then added the organic grass-feed beef.

nice color huh?

then after i browned the beef, i removed it from the pan and set it aside. then i added the onions....sauteed a bit...added some dried sage and thyme....

and then added the carrots. notice that the carrots are two different sizes.

the smaller ones will integrate itself into the broth/soup/stewness while the larger ones will still be noticeable as carrots. again, this is a personal preference of mine...i love biting into soft carrots in stew ....a sweetness to complement the earthiness and fattiness. yes, i know i've broken so many "rules" thus far. i did warn you that many people would be horrified.

after i sauteed the veggies for a bit, i removed the veggies and returned the pork and beef to the pan (including the juices from the resting). then, i added some salt, pepper, and flour.

stir. fond forms. take out the meat and deglaze the pan with about 5/8 bottle of the wine and about the same amount of beef stock....and added some (about 6 oz) of pearl onions. don't get all worked up. these will disintegrate. if you like those little pearl onions whole in the soup, save some and cook them on the side in some broth and then add them to the stew before serving.


while the mix of wine, stock and onion are bubbling away, i also added about a tablespoon or so of tomato paste and the cut up stems of a whole bunch of mushrooms. the meat and sauteed veggies are loaded into the crock pot....awaiting the liquid.

i know that the liquid is ready to cover the meat and veggies when it no longer smells like alchohol and the color changes from a purple-wine color to an almost brick red also smells like earthy meatiness rather than wine-ness.

hopefully this will make sense....yet, this is how i cook.

then when the liquid is where i want it to be, i cover the meat and sauteed veggies. i cook it on "high" in the crock pot for about 3 hours ...then added the mushroom caps (quartered) and then put it on low for about 10 hours.....just checking on it occasionally. adding additional water/stock if necessary.

i started this stew yesterday and it was all ready to eat by lunch time today. as a complement to the stew, i decided to use make some buttered noodles with parsley....

and then spoon some of my separately braised pearl onions and then the stew on top.

it was delicious.

hearty, super duper rich (hello salt pork) and delicious.

as i was making my way through my super duper rich lunch, it just felt really it was something that was just right for the moment.

it was making this new place my home.

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