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Ruth Reichl’s Beef, Wine and Onion Stew From "My Kitchen Year. 136 Recipes that Saved My Life"

Ruth Reichl’s Beef, Wine and Onion Stew From "My Kitchen Year. 136 Recipes that Saved My Life"
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As promised earlier this month, this blog has not heard the last of Ruth Reichl’s latest book (Random House 2015).   Completely coincidentally, while Ruth wrote of yet another snowstorm marooning her and her husband in their upstate New York house, we here in the city had our first plunge in temperatures.   With not a snowflake in sight nor any on the horizon, this recipe called to me nonetheless.   First of all, what is more warming than stew?   And what tastes better than a stew left overnight where it develops even more flavor?  You take it out of the refrigerator then next day, peel away the layer of fat and continue slowly reheating the dish.  Andrew was away this past weekend and so I turned Sunday into a leisurely day of stew making so that I could turn Monday night, when the temperature took its nosedive, into stew night. What makes this particular stew so extraordinary?  And why isn’t it a recipe for Boeuf Bourguignon?  It sure comes darn close with its ingredient list almost identical however this is Ruth’s stew and it’s well worth putting on your winter cooking list.

I’ve arrived at page 110, just a third of the way through “My Kitchen Year”.  Ruth’s confidence in my cooking skills seems to be building as she gets almost loosey-goosey in her instructions.  She tells me to ‘take as many onions as you feel like chopping’.  Now these are not the precise directions I’m used to following.  I quickly scan the ingredient list and aside from the onions, the quantities for everything else are listed precisely…or are they? Back to the recipe, I am told to add ‘any herbs you might have on hand’.  Ruth, I must remind myself, is snowbound. I am just a few blocks away from Fairway Market.  Onward I proceed to brown the beef as

carefully instructed and then cover my beef and vegetables with ‘most of a bottle of decent red wine’, a mixture I will simmer ‘for 3 to 4 hours’.  Now I am not pretending that I need total hand-holding in the kitchen. However there was a sense of let go and let God about this recipe.  And fortunately, Ruth’s Beef, Wine and Onion Stew is an absolute keeper. It has great depth of flavor. It’s just the right amount of rich. It was every bit as comforting as I’d hoped. I even went so far as to ignore Ruth’s suggested boiled potato accompaniment and went for a pillow of creamy mashed potatoes instead.  Maybe I really don’t need recipes to be as precise as I usually follow….  But here it is, just as printed.

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