Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Guy is a meat and potatoes man. OK, I confess....I love beef, too. My fondest memories of our early years together include Friday nights at Maruca's in Trenton, NJ, with Delmonico steak sandwiches and French fries. Maruca's Delmonico steaks were about 1/2" thick, tender as butter, and the meat was well aged with fantastic flavor (not to mention the steak was on the best roll in the world -- Italian People's Bakery roll). In the southeast, there is great pork, but they don't age their beef and the flavor just isn't there. And who can get a steak sandwich with 1/2" thick steak any more? Fudd Rucker's used to have it, but they cut back and now their steak sandwiches are awful. We ate those steak sandwiches every Friday night with no guilt added. It's a different story now. As I cut the beef for this stew and saw the nice marbling that was going to make the meat tender, I envisioned all that fat clinging to my arteries. Needless to say, I had a light portion and doubled up on salad.

About stew meat: chuck is your best cut if you want tender stew. My recipe has a little kick to it because that's what we like. Coffee and wine enhance flavors, and the paprika and chipotle chile powder give a little kick. For us, this is 6-7 servings, but we're small eaters. Although I will say when it comes to beef stew, we both tend to eat more than we would normally.

Beef Stew
Source: Judy's Kitchen
INGREDIENTS: 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. chipotle chile pepper
1 tsp. paprika
2.5 lbs. beef chuck, cut into bite-sized pieces, excess fat removed
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups coarsely chopped onions (about 1 large)
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh garlic
1 cup coarsely chopped celery
1 cup dry red wine, drinking quality (I used Firenze 2006 Chianti)
1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp. instant coffee powder
1 cup coarsely chopped parsley
2 large baking potatoes, peeled, cut in large pieces
2 carrots, peeled, cut in chunks
1/2 cup coarsely chopped parsley

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Mix flour and seasonings in gallon size resealable plastic bag. Add beef, seal bag and shake to distribute flour evenly over beef. Heat oil in large skillet. Add beef with any excess flour, onions, garlic, and celery. Saute' over medium heat till beef is lightly browned and vegetables start to cook, about 5-10 minutes. Turn heat up to high and pour wine over skillet. Let it bubble up for a minute or two and scrape up any residue on the bottom of the pan; then add the tomatoes, water, coffee powder and parsley. After the mixture comes to a boil, spoon or pour it into a 9x12 baking dish and bake it in the oven, covered, for 2-3 hours. Remove cover, add potatoes, carrots and parsley and cook, uncovered for 1 hour.

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