The weekend before last I was reminded how lovely—how decadent—a weekend could be. During my three years of law school, “weekend” was a loose term. Rather, each semester felt like a marathon, with cases and topics and outlines piling on like so many miles to be run. Sure, you could stop for a pit stop here and there, but a full-scale rest wasn’t feasible—you might never finish the race. The bar exam was even worse. And then there were the breaks—winter break, spring break, summer break, post bar exam weeks. During those times, the days just blended together into a seemingly endless weekend. So after my first full week of work, I signed off my computer and marveled at the notion of having Nothing To Do until Monday. Exactly two days of much-needed rest.
Unsurprisingly, I filled my weekend with a number of baking and cooking projects. You’ve already heard about the biscotti and the roasted pumpkin. But there was this beef stew too. We also reveled in a delicious dinner out, caught up on the TV shows waiting patiently on our DVR, ate yogurt topped with the very best granola two breakfasts in a row, jogged through the neighborhood’s quieter streets, and visited the farmers’ market. It was restful and restorative and, well, I have a sneaking suspicion that weekends (the work-free ones, at least) just might turn into my favorite part of my new job.
(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)
Compared to that indulgent weekend, the one that just ended couldn’t have been more different. We drove to Minnesota on Saturday, said a quick hello to my parents, went to a wedding and turned around and drove home to Chicago on Sunday morning. Our hours in the car outnumbered our waking hours in Minnesota. Fun it was, but restful and restorative it was not. So I’m road weary and exhausted. And that has me craving the next weekend, which I hope will involve some serious comfort and maybe another bowl of this stew, with its rustic chunks of carrot, parsnip and potato and meaty jewels of sirloin perched in an herbed, red wine-spiked broth. Rich, earthy, incredibly hearty and soothing, it’s everything an autumn weekend meal should be.
Adapted from Food & Wine
Note: The original recipe calls for short ribs, but the store I went to didn’t have any. I used sirloin instead. I’d love to try it with short ribs next time.
3 1/2 pounds boneless beef short ribs or sirloin, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups dry red wine
3 cups veal or chicken stock
6 carrots, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
3 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 large onion, cut into 1-inch dice
1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, quartered
1 tablespoon thyme leaves, chopped
8 sage leaves, coarsely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
In a large bowl, toss the beef with the flour. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the oil. Working in batches, cook the short ribs over moderately high heat until browned all over, about 6 minutes per batch. Discard the oil.
Return the meat and any juices to the casserole. Add the wine and boil until reduced by half, 8 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over low heat until the meat is tender, 2 hours.
Skim any fat from the stew. Stir in the carrots, potatoes, parsnips, onion, mushrooms, thyme and sage. Cover and simmer over low heat until the vegetables are tender, about 35 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve.