I mentioned making stew for my mom the other day and with the cold weather, many of you thought it sounded so good. It is, it is!
Nicki is one of my oldest and dearest friends. I've known her since I was 16 I think and from the earliest days of our friendship, everything I ever tried at home, I always thought, "Would Nicki do this? How would she do it? Can I do it?" I didn't even know what a dinner party was until I went to one of hers. A remarkable entertainer, stylist, seamstress, homemaker, baker and cook, she could make a humble dish like stew the most elegant entree ever. And it was. Over the years, Nicki contributed recipes to our craft books, became an amazing food stylist and went on to be the food editor at the magazine. We got together in STL and I told her that I made her stew for mom, that it was such a favorite at our house still. Originally her recipe, here is my adapted version of the most delightful stew you will ever make. Serve it in a big bowl with pasta or couscous or rice beneath. A green salad and a rustic bread (or corn bread) and that's it.
2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1" pieces
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 1/2 cups dry red wine
1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 cup beef or chicken broth
1 large onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons bouquet garni or other favorite seasonings
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 green pepper, 1/2 red pepper, cut into strips
1 cup sliced carrots or mushrooms
1/2 cup dried apricots, halved
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup black olives, sliced
In a Dutch oven over medium heat brown the meat. Pour off liquid. Add wine, tomatoes with juice, broth, onion, garlic, bouquet garni, salt and pepper. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for a few hours until the meat is tender. Add green and red pepper, carrots (mushrooms, if desired), apricots, raisins, olives. Simmer covered for about 30 minutes more. Serve it over egg noodles, farfalle, couscous or rice. Most important ingredient is the dried fruit which tenderizes the meat and adds a hint of sweetness.