If you know me, you might know that I am a huge Julie Powell fan. She wrote Julie and Julia (did you see that movie? I love Meryl) and basically does what I do - she cooks, she blogs, she eats too much butter and has a very wonderful husband who is very well fed, but sometimes driven crazy by his wife. So when I heard that she had written a new book called Cleaving, I went right to the store and bought it (it came out on Tuesday but I didn't finish it until last night - I think that shows tremendous restraint on my part).
It's a little darker than her last book (okay, a lot darker). She writes about her affair (poor husband) and her world travels and most importantly, her apprenticeship at a butcher shop in Kingston, NY. If you don't like to read about animals getting methodically cut to bits and women cheating on their very nice husbands, don't read this book. But if you can handle all that, I enjoyed it a lot.
But this is not a book review! It's a cooking blog. All this was to say, I was inspired to go to my local butcher shop today and get some beef stew meat for dinner. The butcher cut it into nice chunks for me. If you only ever buy meat from the grocery store, get out and try a butcher immediately. It tastes better. That's all you need to know.
Here's how to make a lazy beef stew -
Season your meat with salt and pepper. You could also use other seasonings - I threw some Trader Joe's 21 spice salute or something on it for variety. Brown it in a few tablespoons of hot oil (I used olive oil) and remove to a plate.
Brown some vegetables in the oil - I threw in whatever was in my fridge - onions, carrots, garlic, celeriac (kind of like celery, but looks like a potato), and an apple (I have so many apples).
Pour in some red wine (not too much, about a cup or so) and bring it to a boil, scraping up all the yummy brown bits on the bottom of the pan.
Add the meat back into the pot, enough beef stock (or chicken stock or water - whatever you have) and some root vegetables (you know potatoes and such - I added some potatoes and sweet potatoes, cut into chunks). I added some tomato paste as well, but normally I'd add some canned tomatoes. But I ran out of those. Whoops.
Bring the whole thing to a boil, then turn the heat down and cover the pot. Simmer for an hour or so. Taste it to see if needs more salt or pepper. Eat on the couch while watching Parks and Recreation.