Once winter sets in for long haul I head to the bookshelf for Patricia Wells’ Bistro Cooking.  It stays with me until the first of my veggies come out of the garden and I tend to let the garden dictate my meals. I first learned of this treasury of savory dishes from Chef Michelle Cook during one of her memorable Slow Food dinners. Several of us had, as usual, gathered at the beautiful home of Halsey and Michelle Cook for a night of conviviality in the truest sense: a night filled with the best food, wine and conversation. As was often the case at the Cooks’, Michelle brought out the pasta press and made fresh pasta to accompany the two stew recipes from Bistro Cooking.

The first stew is Estouffade Provencale. The wonderful thing about this stew is that is so easy to make. It takes two – three days but the time involved is minimal. The second recipe is Gardiane La Camargue (La Camargue’s Beef Stew with Black Olives).

Both recipes utilize the technique of letting the ingredients “stew” in red wine overnight which tenderizes the beef and blends all the flavors of the veggies. These recipes were likely made using bull’s beef which would be tough but very flavorful and so the overnight treatment would leave the flavor intact but the beef would still be melt in your mouth tender.

Definitely try Michelle’s treatment of the stew by spooning over fresh pasta and served with a good, full bodied wine. Also, please, try to find some good black olives as the recipe just doesn’t have the same taste when canned olives are used.

Estouffade Provencale

2.5 lbs grass fed stew beef(cut in large pieces)
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 carrot, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch rounds
1 celery rib, minced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 bottle, 3 cups, hearty red wine
1 bunch fresh thyme
3 imported Turkish bay leaves (available at The Farm Shop)
1 strip of orange zest, about 2 inches, chopped

1. Two days before serving the stew, combine all of the ingredients, except the orange zest, in a large enameled casserole. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
2. The next day, bring the mixture to a simmer over low heat. Simmer gently, until the meat is very tender, 3-4 hours.
3. Allow the stew to cool down. Refrigerate at least 12 hours.
4. At serving time, reheat until the meat is heated through, 10-15 minutes. Adjust the seasonings. To serve, remove the bay leaves and the thyme, stir in orange zest.
Yield 8 servings when served over pasta

(Next post, Gardiane La Camargue)
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.