The Literate Chef

Posts Tagged ‘Stew’

Is it Autumn Yet?

In General Articles on October 21, 2017 at 10:45 AM

With the Harvest Moon making its recent appearance in the New England sky and Halloween a few weeks distant, the feel of Autumn should have been nigh; although based on our 70° weather, it’s propinquity might be a matter of conjecture. In any case like the Ant in the fable of The Ant and the Grasshopper, we thought it best to be prepared, so two weekends ago we did a bit of cooking, laying in some comfort meals for the eventual cool weather.

The key is making big batches of hearty meals that can be pre-portioned, then defrosted and heated up with little bother on those dark and chilly nights when you want to do nothing except curl up on the couch and watch Netflix.

So here they are, one old standby and two new ones: Uncle Fred’s Lentil Soup; Wild Boar Stew and Wild Boar Ragu. The Lentil Soup is an annual standby and an homage to my godfather, Fred. The Stew and the Ragu are the result of serendipity.

Half a century ago there was a restaurant on the Eastside of Manhattan called Friar Tuck’s. It was located on 2nd or 3rd Avenue, around 54th or 55th Street. It was there that I was introduced to the delights of wild game, specifically Medallions of Young Wild Boar.

Recently I received an email from D’Artagnan, a specialty butcher in Manhattan who does a great job of delivering hard to find cuts of meat to your front door (see Where have all the Butchers Gone?) The email advertised a Shoulder of Wild Boar weighing between 3 and 5 lbs. That got me thinking about Friar Tuck’s, as well as remembering a fabulous meal of Pappardelle with Wild Boar Ragu, that I had in a Tuscan hill town, a number of years ago.   

The Shoulder of Wild Boar, delivered by FedEx two days after placing my order online, was 4lbs. I decided to split it in half and make a Stew and a Ragu. Portioning our the Ragu and the Stew should produce 10 individual meals. The Lentil Soup should provide an additional 10 or so individual meals.

I hope that Netflix is ready for some heavy duty autumn binge-watching!




A Hearty Stew for Those Chilly Autumn and Winter Nights

In General Articles on October 27, 2011 at 11:09 AM

As the leafs cascade onto the lawn in a profusion of yellow, red and brown and the outdoor thermometer dips below 60 degrees, it is time to resurrect the cast iron Le Creuset Oval French Oven  from the basement and cook up a batch of stew. We invested in our 8 quart French Oven a number of years ago and it has served us very well over many years of stew making.

Although there are smaller French and Dutch ovens, we find that this size is right because if you are expending the time and effort to prepare a stew, you might as well make a big one. That way you can break it down into small portions, freeze them and have dinner made in advance for several wintry nights. This should appeal to ‘Moms on the Go’, as well as working singles and couples. Also, for some unfathomable reason, stews always seem to taste better after being re-heated. So go for the big French or Dutch oven.

Making a stew requires a fair amount of preparation time, as well as cooking time, so obviously should not be attempted for that evening’s meal. When my wife and I were both working outside of the home and raising our two daughters, we made our stews on a fall or winter weekend afternoon. Now that we both work from home, we can create one practically any day of the week.

There are a number of steps involved in preparing a stew, so it is a good idea to perform these up front, in order to keep the process moving right along. Of course if you have a sous chef nearby, dividing the labor will be even more expeditious. Steps such as: chopping the garlic and herbs, washing and quartering the potatoes, cleaning the mushrooms, and par-boiling and peeling the onions in advance, will serve to ease the job of making a stew.

Another labor saving step would be to buy the meat already cubed, but that usually is more expensive and you may not get the freshest and best cut of meat, which is we why we prefer to buy the whole piece and cut it ourselves. As the season progresses, we will be adding more stews to the recipe list. In the meantime, good cooking and good eating with Papa’s Hearty Beef Stew a la Burgundy.

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