Putting the time in, and letting ingredients marry, is worth your while.
“Make this rich stew on a leisurely weekend [or on a leisurely Valentine’s Day]. You’ll probably get a good three meals out of it, if you follow some of the suggestions below. When buying stew meat at a supermarket, you don’t always know what you are getting, so ask the butcher. If it’s a lean meat, it will need less time cooking (in fact, it will be ruined if you cook it too long), but the fattier cuts can benefit from at least another half hour.”
2 ounces bacon, cut into small pieces, preferably a chunk cut into little dice
About 11⁄4 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1- to 11⁄2- inch pieces
1 tablespoon light olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1⁄3 carrot, thick end, peeled and diced
2 teaspoons all- purpose flour
1 cup red wine
1 cup beef broth
Herb packet of
1⁄2 bay leaf
a fat garlic clove, smashed
a small handful of parsley stems
1⁄4 teaspoon dried thyme
4 or 5 peppercorns
3 or 4 baby onions, or four 1- inch pieces of leek
Pinch of salt
3 or 4 baby carrots, or the thin ends of larger ones, peeled
2 or 3 small new potatoes
1. Brown the bacon in a heavy pot, fairly deep but not too large. When it has released its fat and is lightly browned, remove it to a dish, leaving the fat in the pan.
2. Pat the pieces of beef dry with a paper towel. Pour the oil into the pot, and when it is hot, brown half the pieces of beef on all sides. Remove to the plate with the bacon, and brown the remaining pieces.
3. Now sauté the onion and the carrot until they are lightly browned. Return the meats to the pot, sprinkle on the flour and some salt, and pour the wine and beef stock in. Tuck the herb packet into the pot, and bring to a boil; then reduce the heat, cover, and cook at a lively simmer for about 1 hour or more, depending on the cut of the meat.
4. Bite into a piece to determine if it is almost done (it will get another 20 minutes or so of cooking with the vegetables).
5. When the time is right, add all the vegetables, cover, and cook at a lively simmer again for 20–25 minutes—pierce the veggies to see if they are tender. Serve yourself four or five chunks of meat, with all the vegetables, and a good French bread to mop up the sauce.
Use three or four pieces and some of the remaining sauce to make a quick Beef and Kidney Pie (page 34) later in the week. The recipe follows Veal Kidneys in Mustard Sauce because you want to use the leftover kidneys to put this dish together.
Use what remains to make a meaty pasta sauce for one, breaking up the meat and adding three or four squeezed San Marzano plum tomatoes. Simmer the sauce as the pasta cooks.
Excerpted from The Pleasures of Cooking for One by Judith Jones. Copyright © 2009 by Judith Jones. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.