About Beth

Beth, along with her husband, Mike, is co-owner of two Italian Deli/Markets in St. Louis - Viviano’s Festa Italiano. When not creating yummy new menu items for the deli, she’s the pediatric research lab supervisor at Washington University School of Medicine. Read more out about Viviano’s Festa Italiano.

About Irene

Irene loves to think, read and dream about food. She enjoys cooking & eating in general. Although she demures about her talents, Irene has a finely-tuned palate that her friends envy. She bakes on occasion. The rest of the time she's creating memories with her family and friends. . . or she's learning a new needlecraft technique.

About Deborah

Deborah is a wife, mother, grandmother, traveler, bootlegger, and a very poor speller! As Victor Hazan so eloquently puts it, Deborah has chosen Umbria to be the home of her soul. When she can’t be there in body, she spends her free time cooking & reading about Italy. She blogs mostly about food and about trips – past and future – here: Old Shoes New Trip.

About Doug

Doug lives in Eastern Ontario in a farmhouse built in 1903. He is a retired teacher with four adult children, a wife, a son-in-law, two Irish step-grandchildren and one grandson who he is lucky to hang with a lot. He has way too many books. Doug also blogs at To Slow Time Down.

About Cindy

Cindy lives in Eagle River, Alaska where her freezer is always full of salmon, halibut & shrimp. Cindy participates in several regular cooking challenges. You can read more about her cooking and life in the last frontier on her blog, Baked Alaska.

About Sandi

Sandi is a true Southerner, but a traveler & Italian cook at heart. She lives in Alabama and knows more about fried green tomatoes than fricassees. Her family owned the WhistleStop Café for many years. Sandi also blogs at Whistlestop Cafe Cooking.

About Jan

Jan, a serious home cook, has owned “Essentials” since 1992. She is passionate about all things Italian, especially the cuisine & the language. Jan blogs about her travels (next trip Italy May/June of 2010) at: Keep your Feet in the Street.

About Jerry

Jerry is a food obsessed Canadian. He learned to love Italian food as a child while eating the meals prepared by his Napolitano uncle. He learned to cook Italian foods by watching his uncle cook these feasts for the family. This love of Italian food has been honed through serious personal experimentation in eating and cooking. Willing to try most anything once, Jerry isn't so sure about tripe! Jerry also blogs at Jerry's Thoughts, Musings, and Rants!

About Palma

Palma is a Marriage & Family Therapist in Palm Desert, CA. She’s an Italian-American with a passion for cooking, entertaining, & travel to Italy. She’s always planning her next culinary adventure to Italia on her blog, Palmabella's Passions

About Kim

Kim is our permanent sub and the image above gives you a good idea of the look on her face when she realized she was drafted. Kim loves to eat, drink, travel and cook - probably in that order. When she's not here, you can find her organizing and leading food, wine and beer tours in Europe as co-owner and operator of GrapeHops or blogging at What I Really Think.

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Beef Stew with Red Wine and Vegetables


(there we go, the long awaited photo of this delicious stew!)

I write this post from the poolside deck of my fellow Pomodori, Palma. It's gorgeous here in the Desert - 76, sunny, clear blue skies. Ahhh

Back home it is cold, cloudy, and likely raining or snowing . . . stew weather; where we live in Canada stews pop up on the menu with great frequency from September to March. There is nothing like a pot of slowly cooked meat and vegetables to help you forget the hellish weather outside the house.

Well, a few bottles of vino from the cellar might assist as well but stew won't make you stupid or give you a headache the next morning.

I originally made this stew a few weeks ago when we were in the midst of renovations; we needed a pot of comfort! Unfortunately I forgot to do my post before I left for vacation. So here I am writing my post in the desert but my pic is back home on my PC. According to those annoying Microsoft commercials I should be able to access my photos at home from this lap top here but I am too stupid to figure it out . . . and I am vacation so I really can't be bothered. *smile*

The photo will come, yes it shall.

I was quite curious about this stew because it doesn't call for the beef to be dredged in flour prior to browning it. I've made a gazillion stews over the years and the first step is always to dredge the beef in flour and then brown it. This is not in Marcella's recipe - in fact you just brown the beef as it is. I was so tempted to just dredge anyway because it is what I have always done but then remembered that the purpose of this challenge was to learn alternative ways of cooking. Marcella, never having led me astray in the past, was to be listened to.

I know from previous stews that you have to put the vegetables in carefully - if a soft vegetable gets added at the beginning of the cooking time it shall be mush after 2 hours of slow cooking or if a harder vegetable gets added at the end your fellow stew eaters will have far more of a crunch than they may desire. One does not want mush or crunch – you want everything to be cooked to perfection.

Marcella describes it beautifully:

the onions first, because they must cook alongside the meat from the beginning, suffusing it with sweetness; the carrots after awhile; the celery later to keep its springly fragrance from being submerged; and at the very last, the peas.

The result is a delicious stew with perfectly cooked vegetables. This stew is surprisingly uncomplicated by herbs, garlic, or other seasonings. The flavours are what comes naturally from the beef, vegetables, and the wine. Marcella suggests a sturdy red wine - a Barbera, perhaps. I took her advice and added a wonderful Barbera . . . the wine may have cost more than the beef but it sure made a difference.

I am not sure why the lack of herbs and garlic surprised me – if Marcella has taught us NOTHING throughout this activity it is that the best flavor comes from meals that are simple, made with fresh, high quality ingredients. Herbs and other seasonings are to be used sparingly so that the natural flavours are not masked.

This stew is a perfect example of how this works to perfection.

Comments (3)

Jerry, even without a photo your post is a great joy. I can just smell and taste this dish right now!

Marcella Hazan:

Susie L's olfactory organs are prodigious, or it may just be your prose. Certainly the word stew alone, to anyone who responds to flavor, evokes tasting pleasures as few other dishes can. Thank you Jerry for appreciating that it's quite possible to leave out the garlic and the herbs and come up with lots of Italian flavor. I wonder now whether I ever explained that convincingly. Six cookbooks may not have been enough, but I have run out of time.

Marcella you may say you have run out of time, but you are one of the more intellectually active people I know! Almost every day you are giving me (and others) more advice through your facebook page, and this blog. It is most welcome.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 13, 2010 8:05 AM.

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