It’s that time of year. I’m revved up for 2023. New experiences are in the works for Casa Mia which means that it is time to hit the road to visit new cities, it is time to meet new guides, cooks and winemakers and it is time to grab a seat at new tables and dream.
“Eating is so intimate. It’s very sensual. When you invite someone to sit at your table and you want to cook for them, you’re inviting a person into your life.” – Maya Angelou
The table I dream about most often is Mom and Dad’s. It is the table where precious memories are made, over morning coffee, family dinners and special occasions. It’s not the holidays that I miss most but the every day. When my dreams brought me to my new home Rome, Iittle did I know that I would miss the ordinary the most. My decision to live in Rome, means missing regular meals with mom, dad, my sister Amy and my brother-in-law Matt. I hear about the dinners from afar; they send pictures. It’s as if I have a seat at the table even if I’m not physically there. I am grateful for this.
With chilly temps in Rome and Boston, our last family dinner featured mom’s beef stew. The original recipe was Ma’s (my maternal grandmother). She made a version with a splash of fresh tomato and another with barley. As with most of mom’s and my grandmothers’ recipes there are no precise measurements. I hope that you’ll find comfort in this dish as I do today on Ma’s birthday.
Ingredients for 2 people with leftovers because it tastes better on day 2
- 1 1/2 – 2 lbs. stew meat (chuck steak will do, or treat yourself to sirloin) cut into 1″ pieces
- 1 lb. potatoes
- 1 lb. carrots
- 3-4 medium onions
- optional: canned red kidney beans
- optional: 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 2 Tbsp. AP flour for coating
- black pepper and salt to taste
- 2-3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Peel the potatoes and carrots and cut to a size that you like. I prefer about 1″ pieces for this rustic stew. Peel the onions and leave them whole.
Mix some flour and black pepper in a bowl. Dredge meat in it. Coat a Dutch oven pan with extra virgin olive oil. If using rosemary, add to the oil and let infuse for about 3 minutes, then remove. Add the meat and brown.
Add vegetables to the pan. Cover with water, mix and simmer gently until tender. If adding kidney beans, add them at the end. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately or better yet, prepare 1 day in advance.