After a string of spring-like days that tricked a few shrubs into early bloom, Denver is back to overnight lows in the teens. The mother in me bemoans the fact that I had to dig out the mittens and ski pants my kids use on the playground — the same ones I had just washed and put away for the season. But the cook in me is secretly pleased, since now I have one more chance to serve those hearty soups and stews that just don’t seem right when the mercury tops 70.
Which winter dish to make? As I mulled the options, I realized I needed a recipe that serves a crowd, since I would be cooking for two families of five (ours and a friend who recently had a baby). I also needed a low-maintenance menu, since I would be juggling workers at the house, last-minute Girl Scout cookie deliveries, and soccer practice. Finally I settled on one of our favorites, Beef Stew with Red Wine, which met all the logistical requirements and also filled the house with incredible smells all day. (Not to mention it used up most of the organic potatoes, onions and carrots from my last farm-share delivery, an added bonus.)
The recipe I followed is one I’ve altered over time, adding diced tomatoes and tomato paste to make the sauce more complex, two cups of red wine to make it richer, and cornstarch to thicken it right before serving. I also add more carrots than originally called for, but if you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know I love carrots! All in all, consider it a recipe to toast winter’s silver lining.
Click here for the recipe for Beef Stew with Red Wine.