Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A Little Warm Up

There comes a point in every relationship when you learn what kind of pornography the other is into. Apropos of nothing, my plus-one recently revealed a new video he enjoys starring a man named Stu. My initial thought was there's no way anyone that good looking is actually named "Stu." My second thought was of all the porno names you could choose, Stu is pretty solid because it reminds me of things that are hot and beefy. Well done Stu. This one's for you!

I got this enameled cast iron beauty for Christmas exclusively for the purpose of braising meats. The last one I had was a thrift store find which unfortunately didn't live very long. This bad boy cost a pretty penny which is why it was a gift from my parents. I know they're technically called "dutch ovens" but I just can't say it without thinking of the practice that single-handedly ruined my parents' marriage. As far as I'm concerned, no kitchen is complete without this $200 cooking vessel.

Braised Beef Stu

March is the best time for braised animal and veggies because it's still god damned winter in Chicago for a few more weeks (re: months). Nothing warms the soul like crusty bread and a hearty stu. Humble brag, but I'll be headed to Wales next week for work and the country's signature dish is called Lamb Cawl. We'll see how their Welsh stew stacks up.

Braising is just a fancy name for cooking something for a really fucking long time in an expensive dish. Stews like Boeuf Bourguignon were once considered peasant food, so don't let the French scare you off. You can actually braise in a crock pot, and I do it quite often. It makes meat melt in your mouth and broth burst with flavor. You'll need a cigarette after this, it's that damned good. Either make this on Sunday and eat it for a week, or make for a dinner party on the cheap.

you will need the following: 

1 lb cube steak 
3 strips butcher's bacon
6 red potatoes (cubed)
3-4 sliced carrots
1 sweet onion 
1 sliced parsnip
2 cloves garlic 
1 can tomato paste
3 c chicken stock 
1/2 red wine 
3 tbsp butter
1 bouquet fresh thyme
salt & pepper

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350. Coat meat pieces in flour, salt and pepper. Prepare stock. Chop bacon into small pieces. In your dutch oven, brown bacon pieces in butter to chewy but not crispy. Remove bacon pieces and set aside. 

Step 2: In small batches, brown your meat. Once all your meat is browned, return bacon to the pot.

Step 3: Cover with stock and mix in tomato paste to form this reddish meat slurry. Add wine and bring to a simmer.

Step 4: Add your veggies. Fill with water to cover vegetables and meat. Add thyme bouquet and season to taste.

Step 5: Simmer on the stovetop for 30 minutes with the lid on. Bake in the oven for 2-3 hours with the lid on. Better even still, make the night before and reheat. The flavors will have a chance to marinate. Serve with crusty bread or bust.

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