After months of unseasonably warm weather, winter has come blasting in with cold and snow. The temperature dropped into the single digits today and snow has been gusting, bringing swirling snow and brightness to this gray day.
My response, a blazing fire in the wood stove, a pot of beef stew and Downton Abbey. Does it get any better than that?
My beef stew is one that I make by doing, it doesn’t come from a recipe. I just sort of feel it out, letting smells and tastes guide me. I begin with carrots, onions and celery, also known as mirepoix, something we talk about in my Warmth in the Kitchen eCourse.
I sauté the mirepoix in a little warmed olive oil. Before that I heat the pan. I add garlic and thyme too. Thyme is my everything herb. I put it in nearly everything I make. I add sea salt and pepper, as well as whole peppercorns and bay leaves.
After the vegetables and spices sauté for a bit, I add a few good dollops of tomato paste. I stir it in and let the ingredients meld and warm.
Once that mixture begins to meld, I add a good splash, or two or three, of red wine. I usually have something full bodied around and use that.
Once those flavors have had a chance to meld, I add beef broth and then the beef, usually a chuck roast from a local farm with pasture raised animals.
Then I bring it to a very gentle simmer, cover it and let it very gently simmer. Then I add carrots and potatoes and when they have cooked through, it’s ready.
One of the secrets to good meat cooking that I learned from the local butcher is that it is best to cook roasts at the lowest temperature possible, slow cooking for a long time if needed. He reminded me that a rare roast is only cooked to 125 degrees. I have found this to work well.
It’s a little trickier with a pot roast and much trickier when that pot roast is on the wood stove.
I’ll look for a recipe template to format for you in case you’d like one to download.
There’s something so satisfying in cooking on the wood stove, in knowing it is providing for warmth of body and soul.
As a leftover dish, I add mushrooms and make mash potatoes to serve it on. The potatoes drink in all the tasty broth. Need I say more?
How do you stay warm when the weather turns cold?