Friday, October 17, 2008

Oh sweet alchemy

I somehow managed to cube and brown 3lbs of chuck and saute a couple of onions so I could get some stew going for tonight's dinner to the sweet music that is overtired children. I got everything into the oven at 5.30 and pulled it out for a peak at 7. It definitely could have passed muster at that point, but seeing as we hadn't put anyone to bed yet, I decided to let it cook a bit longer. When Alex was finally down, I pulled it out just after 8. Stew does not even begin to describe what I pulled out of the oven - that magical brown sauce where the onions have completely merged with the broth and beer (alas only lager this time, I didn't have any stout on hand), bite-sized chunks of meat that just dissolve in your mouth, and the heady aroma of thyme.

Seriously, something magical happened in my oven tonight. I love a dish that gets better the longer you cook it. It's also so versatile - as long as I have meat, onions and broth I'm good to go. I've made it with non-alcoholic amber beer, lager, and my favorite - red table wine. I've had it turn out equally well with chuck, top or bottom round (because sometimes you have to use what's on sale). It's one of those dishes that I can sit back and tell myself, "man, I did a great job on this," and I have to thank my inability to plan ahead enough to use the crock pot to make stew for it. Yes, more often than not we are eating around 9pm, but it's so worth it.

Now for cherry pie and vanilla ice cream.