Man, this past week sucked, didn’t it? I found that I was very very tired and really just drained by Friday, so I knew for the weekend I needed to follow my own advice and spend as much time in the kitchen this weekend as I could; that’s where I can really relax. As the weather is just lovely and slowly cooling I wanted to cook something warm and filling, and there’s one recipe that my parents got out of an old Dodge magazine that they had when we drove around in something like this beast. The recipe was called “Portuguese Soupas.” I don’t actually think any Portuguese were harmed or consulted in its making, however, as any ones I’ve mentioned this to have never eaten anything like it.
Anyhow, one of the big benefits of spending several hours in the kitchen is the imbibing opportunities
Baritone Shiraz/Cabernet blend. It has nice fruit and structure, not the deepest of colors in the glass, more like a darkish raspberry, really. In these rather trying economic times what’s especially nice about it is that it comes in a 1 liter bottle for only $10. Is it a great wine? No, I wouldn’t save it for a special event, but it’s fine for every day imbibing.
Did I mention beef? At Costco they have these delicious london broils running, oh, 2 pounds each or so and they come two to a package, so on Friday night I grilled one and for this dish on Saturday I cut up the other
into 1″ or so chunks and put it in a large dutch oven, which certainly got someone’s attention
Not that I am easily swayed by outright begging, mind you, but look at that face
Oh, I guess some meat might have fallen into your bowl after all
Anyhow, back to the human food. Did I mention this recipe uses Port?
Yum. Anyhow, take two of the large 28 oz cans of crushed tomaters and dump them into the pot atop the cubed meat. Then take your tasty bottle of ruby port and fill one of the cans, oh, about a third of the way up
and swish it about to remove any leftover ‘maters then pour that into the other can and repeat, then dump that into the pot with the other stuff. And pour more port in for good measure; I usually end up using most of the bottle.
Now, Friends, I know that you, like myself, are concerned about serving your guests and family only the finest in beverages and vittles, so it is important at this point to make sure the port is up to your usual high standards (i.e. the bottle has been paid for)
Yes, that will work nicely.
Place the pot on the stove over medium-ish heat and add what you consider to be a reasonable amount of garlic
and a teaspoon or so of ground coriander
a large chopped onion, a teaspoon of celery seed, some freshly ground salt and pepper
At this point you should get the pot up to a rolling simmer then back it off to a sloooow simmer for about 3 hours, covered, stirring occasionally. The idea is to let things meld and reduce slightly.
and oh damn
I'll attend to that little emergency in a moment; first take a few large spuds (again, this is at the roughly 3 hour point)
and please note that I am not a Potatist: I believe all tuber races have the right to freely coexist in my belly. It’s my Big Tent.
So cube up those babies and plop them into the pot for about thirty minutes of cooking
Don’t they look thirsty?
Of course they do.
Don’t I look thirsty?
Why won’t this camera focus?
Now what goes nicely with this stew is some home-made garlic bread. So in a little saute pan gently melt half a stick of unsalted butter with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil
add a decent amount of garlic powder, some oregano, fresh ground pepper and salt and gently simmer
Come here my pretties
ah, tasty chopped garlic
add that to the saute pan and continue the kinder, gentler sauteing
I’d even turn the heat down more, as if it’s a touch too high or you get distracted the garlic is easy to over cook and it becomes like hard little bitter bits of chewing gum.
While that heats up slice your baguette into thick pieces
Now, back to the stew for a moment. Take a package of frozen spinach (As Julie Child once said, this is “Nutrition rearing its ugly head”)
and carefully plop it into the pot
and I do mean ‘carefully,’ for as some folks would say the stew has been cooking for several hours and it is quite nu-que-ler; you do not want to splatter thyself. A side effect of this is that the frozen spinach rapidly becomes unfrozen and perfectly done in the 10 minutes or so that are left.
Now, an unfortunate side effect of being in the kitchen for 3 hours is that the one liter bottle of wine is now a zero liter bottle.
An outrageous restriction of my civil liberties which will not stand.
But first I’ve got to carefully spoon the garlicy goodness onto the waiting slices
springle with a light layer of parmesan cheese and put in the oven at, oh, 375 or so. I like to bake the garlic bread, not broil it, so 375 for 8-10 minutes seems to work for my taste, but YMMV.
After a few minutes in the pot-o-doom the spinach is mostly de-frozen so give it a stir
and attend the that most pressing matter: your glass
I love this wine. I feel so dirty saying that, but it’s true. A very smooth, easy-drinking vin de table. And how does $8 for a 1.5 liter bottle strike you? This is an insane bargain. Buy this wine. Buy a lot of it. Have a glass every night with your beloved. Enjoy life, dear friends. Vive la Freedom Fries!
So the 10 minutes are up, my glass is newly full, the garlic bread has nicely browned
the stew is ready
serve and enjoy
(sorry about the bite out of that piece there…Quality Control and all, you understand)