9. What does that number signify? The number of pounds I have lost this year? I wish. The number of Manolo’s in my closet? Nope. The number of pieces of chocolate cake I have eaten today? Close, but not quite. No, 9 is the high today. As in degrees. The high. Fahrenheit. 9!! Seriously, if it weren’t for the pizza and hot dogs I would NOT be living in Chicago! In fact I may just be ordering myself some Lou Malnati’s pizza tonight. I’ll have it delivered. Thank. You. Very. Much.
As much as I hate living with these frigid winter temps, it gives me an excuse to eat things like Italian style beef stew. If I lived in a climate that was 80 degrees year round would I crave stew and other comfort foods? Probably not. Especially since I would probably be wearing a bathing suit far more than I could here. Even though I hate the cold, I am happy to counter the freezing temps with stews, soups, and hot chocolate. This is a recipe that Cliff selected and it is a winner. I made a few adjustments, but we all really enjoyed it. Perfect for those freezing cold days when you can’t even bear to leave the house.
3 lbs beef chuck roast, fat trimmed and cubed
2 oz prosciutto or bacon
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, diced
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 oz dried oyster mushrooms, soaked in 2 1/2 cups warm water until soft, then chopped, soaking liquid strained and reserved
2 cups red wine
3 cups frozen pearl onions
2 28 oz cans whole san marzano tomatoes, chopped
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
Pre heat the oven to 325 degrees F. Trim the excess fat off of the meat and cut into 1 inch cubes. Blot dry with a paper towel. Season generously with salt and pepper. Soak the mushroom in 2 1/2 cups of warm water. Chop the garlic, onion, carrots, celery, basil, and rosemary. Brown the prosciutto in a dutch oven over medium heat. Do not burn. Remove the prosciutto and set aside. Leave behind the fat. Brown the meat in the prosciutto fat. You will probably have to do this in batches. Remove each batch of meat once browned. Add the vegetable oil and the garlic, onion, carrots, celery, basil, and rosemary. Cook about 5 minutes. Chop the mushrooms. Reserve the liquid. Add the mushrooms and the tomato paste. Coat the vegetable with the tomato paste. Add the prosciutto back to the pot. Add the wine to the pot and scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Strain the mushroom soaking water and return it to the pot. Bring to a simmer. Add the meat back to the pot along with the chopped tomatoes. Bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and transfer the pot to the oven. Cook for 2.5 hours or until the meat is tender. Add the pearl onions and cook an additional 1/2 hour.
Adapted from: Fine Cooking