Thursday, April 16, 2009

Stew on This

You may not be fully aware of this, but it was actually winter here in LA recently (as in this morning and yesterday, but not Monday, which was nice, or this afternoon, which was also fantastic.) For those few frigid hours, as the icy, 60 degree weather sent us burrowing into our Ugg boots and huddling under blankets, a vision of comfort food overwhelmed me, and I decided to make stew for the first time ever. Not everyone was on board with this decision.

"Mom, what's in the pot?"
"Really yummy stew."
"When's Dad coming home?"

"Hey, babe. I'm on my way home. What's for dinner?"
"Really yummy stew."
"I'm right by the store. Do you need me to pick something up?"

Maybe they were a little bit right to be concerned. Starting way later than I should have, I rushed through the recipe, barely hitting the recommended time in the oven and jettisoning the side dish from the book. ( "Grits?! Dad...DO something!") When we sat down to eat, there was polite silence, and a massive run on the buttered pasta.

Chastened, I put the pot back in the oven and went on with my night, forgetting all about it until a rich, tantalizing aroma made me look up from my laptop and race for the oven mitt. Unbelievable the difference that hour made. It was like the stew fairy had come to the house. Or a convention of them. This stuff was "crack-a-lackin" as the zebra says. I hummed a victory song to myself, and went to bed.

Cut to the next night.

"Mom, what's for dinner?"
"Leftover stew for me. You guys can have grilled cheese."
"We love you, Mom!"

"Honey, what's cookin' tonight?"
"Leftover stew, or you can pick something up for yourself on the way home."
"I'll swing by the Chicken Cafe. Thanks, babe!"

I quietly stirred my pot of grits. Lovingly sprinkled in the two kinds of cheese, the big pat of butter, and put my stewpot on the stove to reheat. Heads began to turn, away from American Idol, no less. I hummed my victory song (partially to drown out American Idol), and got out a plate. I spooned out my gloriously creamy cheesy grits, then added a generous portion of melt-in-your mouth meat and dark, satiny, wine-laden sauce, made even better overnight by the stew fairy convention. I sat myself down and savored every last bite while the entire room looked on in envy. Comfort food, indeed.

Both of these recipes are adapted from Dining In, by G. Garvin
Lamb and Filet Stew

by Sharon Graves
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
  • 2 cups cubed beef filet mignon
  • 2 cups cubed lamb
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 red onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup quartered small red potatoes
  • 3 jumbo carrots, peeled and rough cut
  • 6 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 1/2 cups canned chopped plum tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 1/2 cups red wine
  • Fresh thyme sprigs


Preheat oven to 350.

Season beef and lamb with plenty of salt and pepper, and/or your favorite seasonings. Dredge the meats in the flour, and set aside.

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the onion, potatoes, carrots and garlic, and cook for 2 minutes. Add the meat and the tomatoes, and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the stock, the wine and the thyme. Bring to a boil, then stir, cover and transfer to the oven.

Roast slowly for at least 90 minutes, or until the meat is butter-tender.
Serve over Parmesan and Cheddar Cheese Grits.

*I used fire roasted tomatoes, which gave this a smoky, spicy undertone that I loved.

Parmesan and Cheddar Cheese Grits

by Sharon Graves
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes

  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup uncooked fine or medium hominy grits
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tbs. butter
  • Ground black pepper


In a small saucepan, bring the water and salt to a boil.

Whisk in the grits, and continue to whisk for about 1 minute. When the mixture returns to boiling, reduce heat to low.

Cook for 10-15 minutes or until creamy and smooth, stirring frequently.

Remove from heat. Stir in cheeses, butter, and pepper to taste.

* I used Albers quick grits, but still cooked them for almost 10 minutes to get them really creamy.

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