Thursday, December 6, 2012

Food for the Soul: Stew Deep and Dark

Moonlight in a Forest. Winter, by Arkhip Kuindzhi

As days grow darker, I start looking forward to rich, slow foods like beef stew. These meals remind me to sit with what is potential for a while, to watch as meat breaks down and flavors meld, rather than to expect completion in a flash of a pan.

Start by browning some beef chuck in a large dutch oven, and then remove it from the heat. Add some sliced onions, then some garlic. Then a generous amount of red wine and tomato paste, and once everything is combined and warm, transfer this mixture, plus meat to the slow cooker for 6 hours on low.

The last, and most important step is to add all the magical spices that make this stew special: bay leaf, paprika, marjoram, cumin, lemon zest. (Just typing those beautiful words makes me happy.)

I think we served this over egg noodles last time, but you could also just soak up the juices with crusty bread. This beef goulash is a summary of the one found in Michele Scicolone's Italian Slow Cooker. You should check this book out. 

When you sit down to eat your stew, give thanks for the many forms of life that went into it. Ponder where that life has gone, and what you will do with the energy you receive. If you find yourself exploring your own dark spaces during these dark days, I hope this food will give you some comfort and nourishment along your journey.

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