Savoring a short season

Fall has barreled its way for a far too short stay. In Upstate New York, Spring fails to commit, Summer creeps in them lays heavy in the air, Fall suddenly arrives with gorgeous colors and cooling crispness only to be quickly butted out by bitter, clingy, miserable Winter…Can you tell how much I looove winter?

Anyway, the truth is that September is my favorite month. This is the kind of weather we should have for 12 months not just one. It has clear, sunny skies. Warm, crisp days and chilly nights. September even offers a few wicked rainstorms to keep you on your toes.

Veggies are still abundant in backyard gardens and roadside stands. Summer foods, dinners made entirely of sweet corn are even still possible. But the chilly breezes also make you crave chicken soup, pot roast, clam chowder and stew. Warm, hearty and delicious friends that took a vacation while the sun shone and the humidity hovered. This past week I made my first lasagna of the year, Friday was a roast chicken and Sunday afternoon stew simmered away on the stove top. Soon I’ll have regular pot of chicken stock bubbling and boiling. I’ll freeze the stock by the quart to help me get through the winter.

For now though, I’m going to savor each moment Fall has to offer. Pumpking ice cream, apple pie, roast chicken, sweet potatoes and all the while enjoying the last bits of summer that hang on…sweet corn, salad greens, tomatoes and the like. September means combining all the things I love in the happiest, most relaxed and truly delicious ways. Following is my recipe for Beef Stew. The ingredients list may seem a little overwhelming, but really the whole process is pretty simple.

Beef Stew

2 – 2 1/2 lbs. stew meat or diced chuck
1 T. parsley pesto
1 T. Worcester sauce
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
2 T. olive oil
1/2 c. red wine
1 med. onion (1 inch dice)
1/2 green bell (1 inch dice)
2 cloves garlic – diced
2 large celery ribs (1/2 to 1 inch slices)
2 large carrots (1/2 to 1 inch slices)
1 can petite diced tomatoes (or 2 c. freshly diced tomatoes)
3/4 c. beef stock
1 T. fresh oregano (chopped)
1 large potato (1 inch dice)
1 T. parsley pesto

Marinate the Meat

1. In a large bowl mix meat and parsley pesto. Add salt, pepper and Worcester sauce. Combine completely, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 to 3 hours.

Make Stew

  1. Heat oil in a dutch oven or large stock pot. Add meat in groups of 7 to 10 pieces. Sear pieces and remove to paper towel lined plate, repeating until all meat has been seared.
  2. Add red wine and onions. Stir to deglaze the pan. Stir in bell pepper, garlic, celery and carrots. Return meat to pan. Mix in tomatoes, stock and oregano. Cover. Reduce heat to low. Leave for 30 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Stir in potatoes. Cover and cook for another 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  4. Add parsley pesto and any additional frozen vegetables (corn, green beans, lima beans). Stir to combine and let cook for additional 10 to 15 minutes.

If the stew is thin, combine 1 T. flour with 1/4 c. cool water until completely smooth. Stir flour mixture into stew, allowing the stew to thicken.

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Filed under Basics, Food

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