Thursday, February 3, 2011

Robust and Warming Beef Stew for The Coldest Damn Winter Ever

Dear Reader,

Yesterday was Groundhog's Day, at which time said groundhog was removed from his hole and did not see his shadow.  This was likely due to the fact that we have had not one single sunny day since early October, and nobody has seen their shadow since that time.  Why we have to use a groundhog for this ritual is beyond the scope of my knowledge, as it seems to me that if I don't cast a shadow, then neither will said groundhog.  But who am I to rain on the parade?  Yesterday's hog hoist foretold of an early spring, which is hard to believe given the bracing, biting, cheek stinging, eyeball freezing cold we woke up to today.  (If you are reading this in some warm clime, you can kiss my frozen ass).

Here in New York we received none of the lovely snow that pounded the rest of our country this week, likewise none of the school cancellations.  What we had was freezing rain that washed away much of the snow, leaving behind slick sheets of ice on everything from sidewalks to those piles of garbage that haven't been picked up for weeks.  Countless nerds must be thrilled to finally realize what life in Narnia is actually like, but not me.  Today I offer you a warming stew to get you through this winter.

Robust and Warming Beef Stew For The Coldest 
Damn Winter Ever

You Will Need:

4 strips bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 1/2 lbs beef stew meat, or groundhog
Salt and pepper
1/2 lb pearl onions
3 T flour
1/2 dry red wine, plus one bottle more
3 T brandy, plus one cask more
2 gloves garlic, minced
1/8 tsp marjoram
1/8 tsp thyme
1 strip orange peel
1 cup beef stock
1 medium onion
4 whole cloves
I know it's a lot of stuff, right?
1/2 lb mushrooms
2 T butter
Finely chopped parsley

Over the crackling fire you have made from burning the remains of your dining room furniture during the power outage, brown bacon in a large skillet.  Remove bacon and set aside.  Season beef with salt and pepper, add to bacon drippings, brown on all sides.  Transfer meat and bacon to 3 qt dutch oven.  Add pearl onions to drippings, brown lightly and set aside.  Sprinkle flour into drippings and brown lightly.  Open bottle of wine and drink heartily to warm internal organs and make you not care quite so much that it's so freaking cold and depressing.  Open door and whistle for St. Bernard.  When he arrives, remove brandy cask from his collar.  Stir in wine and brandy to flour, whisking, add garlic, marjoram, thyme, orange peel, stock.  Stick the cloves into the onion and toss that into the pot as well, being careful not to mistake for snowball to throw at small child, as an onion in the face is even far worse than snow down your collar.  Pour over meat, cover, cook at 325 for 2 1/2 hours.  Add browned pearl onions and cook 30 mins more.  Quarter mushrooms and sautee in butter, add to stew last 15 mins.  Sprinkle with parsley.  Do not attempt to warm frostbitten toes by submerging in stew, as will compromise flavor.

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