February 24, 2010
A beef stew story...
I made beef stew on Saturday, using three recipes, really taking my time, being patient. Slowly cooking the bacon. Bill (my meat man) browning the chuck roast, which I carefully cut into inch and a half cubes, in a little bacon fat and Zoe olive oil.
Then caramelizing the onions, garlic and carrots. One of the recipes called for dried porcinis, which Zagara's grocery didn't have, so I picked up a small packet of dried morels. Soaked them, as instructed, in a cup of boiling water, chopped them fine, added them to the pot. Added the mushroom water (without the grit) to the 4 cups of liquid (red wine, beef stock, the juice from a can of roma tomatoes).
One of the recipes, for "Mahogany Beef Stew", called for hoisin, the Chinese ketchup, which I stirred in instead of tomato paste. I hate the term "depth of flavor" as everyone uses it all the time now; folks today will rave over the depth of flavor in a chef-made PB&J. But the hoisin did add depth.
Added the chopped roma tomatoes, the liquid, a couple of sprigs of thyme, one bay leaf, the beef and juices, brought it all to a boil and shoved it a 350º oven for 2.5 hours. Did I mention salt and pepper? A bit of kosher salt and freshly ground Tellicherry. Sat the pot on the kitchen counter to cool and stuck it in the fridge overnight.
Sunday, after skimming the fat, I browned baby carrots while the stew heated on the stove, and added them to the pot, put it back in the oven for another hour and a half. Browned pearl onions, then baby bellas, and 15 minutes before serving added them, along with the bacon crumbles. Served on parsley buttered noodles.
This was the best beef stew I've ever made. We gorped, we raved. Really really good.
Then I looked at the grocery bill and learned why.
You know how nothing is marked with a price any more? Humans should be genetically modified with a UPC scanner in their hands. When I picked up those morels, they weren't marked, but I thought: What? $7? $8? They've got to more expensive than Chanterelles, but they can't be that much more.
NINETEEN DOLLARS AND NINETY-NINE CENTS!
No wonder there was depth of flavor. The depth reached straight into my 401K.