Thursday, November 8, 2007

"Can We Have This Again Soon?"

I don't like stew.

This is sort of a problem, it being stew weather and all. But I have always gotten nervous at the sight of soft brown and orange chunks of stuff in a mysterious gravy base. It didn't get better as I got older. Weird kid-food paranoia was merely supplanted by industrial-food paranoia and a general fear of things like Liquid Smoke.

But -- that chill in the air. The rustling of red and gold leaves. My Weber grill looking like ever more of a bitter stranger in my windswept Children-of-the-Corn backyard. It's clearly time to warm up the kitchen with some softly bubbling braising meats.

The problem -- the reason I have always treated the entire genre with suspicion -- is the lazy, hodge-podge way that everything in the pantry is usually thrown willy-nilly into the pot, doused with Worcestershire and left to ... stew.

Enough with the one-pot meals! Things have different cooking times! It can't be brown-brown-beige-brown, and soft-soft-liquid-soft. We need some lovely bright colors on that plate, in addition to lovely bright flavors and textures. Needing this bright stuff on the plate, I realized stew would actually be a perfect Mothership Meal.

My ideal stew: I pictured a dark, winy, silky gravy as a background for the dark, winy, silky chunks of meat. Then: bright crisp snow peas, sweet carrot coins, and spicy turnips to be added at will. Crusty bread to mop up the gravy. A big glass of red wine. Happy kids. Happy grown-ups.

This is, more or less, what I got.

I'll post a recipe after my kids are in bed.

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