While on my train trip out to the East coast, I may have wandered into a used bookstore, and I may have, in the process picked up a couple books, and left some cash on their desk on my way out. But I was definitely a good girl and did not buy more books. Because I’m responsible. And one of the books I did not buy, just happened to carry out after dropping some cash, was Leith’s Latin-American Cooking by Valeria Vieiria Sisti. In honor of the first day of spring, I cracked it open to cook dinner. And since the first day of spring was so cold I’d lit a fire in the fireplace, I went for a beef stew.
I even followed this recipe pretty closely. My biggest change was using chicken stock instead of beef stock, because chicken stock is what we keep in the house. It doesn’t specify what kind of dried fruit one should use, so I went with what we had in the house, which was golden raisins, cherries, and cranberries. I could have sworn we had prunes, but I’m either daft or they’re hiding. (We have three pantries. It really could be either)
This recipe isn’t really all that different from any other beef stew, but that’s ok. If you’re looking for a good recipe to learn how to make beef stew from, I’d recommend this one. I like the way the recipe instructions are written. It’s a Do this thing: Details on how to do the thing style. It means that I have all the information and nuance for what exactly to do, but when I’m in the middle of cooking I can get the next step info quickly and without hunting through the text for it.
This is a picture of raw beef, because I chopped up a roast and it was pretty. Look, my knife skills, they lead to yum.
Browning the meat is possibly my favorite part of making stew. It’s quick, satisfyingly productive – you see it browning right there before your eyes! – and you know all those lovely beefy bits are getting stuck to the bottom of the pan.
The browned beef goes into a bowl, and then you deglaze the pan. I used the last of an ancient box of pinot noir as the wine in this recipe. The beef was very happy to soak in its wine and cow juices mixture. I know, because it mooed at me when I walked by. (Or I was hungry.)
This recipe had me slow cook the onions over really low heat. I’d usually do them on somewhat higher heat until they were a bit carmelized, but this worked just fine.
I used two carrots instead of the one the recipe called for. Our carrots were fairly small, though, and one just didn’t feel like enough. And I used a giant clove of garlic because yum.
This is where I did my other big divergence from the recipe. I emptied the box of wine into the pan instead of measuring, so I’m sure I put in more than what it called for. But since I left the pan on the stove for a good hour and a half longer than the recipe called for, too, I think the extra liquid was a good idea.
The extra cooking time was more because Nick stayed at work way too late, but it was the difference between the beef being adequately cooked, and falling apart into flaky awesome, so I think that was a win.
This is beef stew ready to eat. Doesn’t that just scream spring?
The cookbook recommends serving over their recipe for fried rice. I just used our harvest mix of rice because it was faster, and hey, I had work to do to and I’d already taken a lot of time out of my day for stew and, er, first day of spring fire and s’mores.
Definitely looking forward to playing with this cookbook some more, though.