This family recipe fills kitchen with delicious aromas, memories
I thought I lost this recipe. Mild annoyance turned to panic as I sifted through papers and shuffled stacks of cookbooks. I sat on the floor of my office, close to tears, feeling utterly careless. But then I spied it, clipped to the middle of my memo board. A sigh of relief escaped my lips.
It’s not flashy. It’s simple. It’s written in my late father’s handwriting. And it’s my favorite memory of him.
The day is still vivid in my mind, like it was yesterday instead of more than 20 years ago. He invited me to accompany him to the grocery store to buy ingredients. Stopping to inspect each red potato for bumps and cuts, he counseled me to choose the smaller ones from the stack. Onions shouldn’t be too large, either. And don’t forget the loaf of soft French bread to soak up the savory broth. Forget that and you would have to make a second trip to retrieve it.
My dad wasn’t a chef, he was just a dad. He had two moves — the grill and breakfast for dinner. But when he made this stew, it was an all-day kitchen affair. I would perch on a barstool and watch him while he was cooking, taking his time and I would notice how present he was, how happy the process of cooking this simple meal made him. It was one of those honest moments, seeing a parent take pride in creating a dish they knew their family would love.
When I make this stew, I try to block off plenty of time so I don’t feel rushed. I take time to enjoy slicing the carrots into coins, dicing the onions and mincing the parsley. My kitchen quickly fills with delicious aromas and my heart overflows with memories of my dad standing over a simmering pot.
DAD’S BEEF STEW
3-4 pounds beef stew meat
2 bay leaves
2 beef bouillon cubes
½ cup apple cider
2 onions, diced
1 bunch parsley, minced
5-6 red potatoes
1 pound carrots, sliced
1 bunch celery, sliced
All-purpose seasoning salt
Fresh cracked pepper
Loaf of French bread
SEASON beef with seasoning salt and fresh cracked pepper. Put in plastic storage bag and refrigerate overnight.
REMOVE from refrigerator and bring to room temperature. In a large frying pan, heat olive oil. Brown meat, in batches. Remove and pat dry with paper towels. Set aside.
COMBINE browned meat, bay leaves, bullion cubes, apple cider, onion and parsley in a large Dutch oven. Cover with water and simmer for 3 hours.
ADD potatoes, carrots and celery and cook an additional hour. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Continue cooking until meat is tender.
MAKE a slurry of water and all-purpose flour. Stir into stew, mixing thoroughly. Serve with a loaf of soft French bread.