It was in my Mother’s kitchen that my great love affair with food and entertaining first began. She was, and still is, an amazing cook. Gathering inspiration from her many magazine subscriptions, cookbooks and recipes swaps with friends and relatives.
No, there was no Google or Food Network back then and the only Chefs that I can recall on television at the time were Julia Child and Justin Wilson (Comedic Cajun Chef).
My mother enjoyed cutting out recipes and entertaining ideas from her favorite magazines (Sunset, Better Homes and Gardens, Family Circle and Woman’s Day) and pasting them in a big scrapbook to have for a later day. It was kind of a like a “Pinterest” of the the seventies.
Back then folks did a lot of entertaining in the home and our home was no exception. From Board Games or Card Game Nights to Dinner parties, Birthdays, Holidays, Sunday Supper, BBq’s, Patio Picnics. They were not always at our house, my parents and their friends would take turns hosting.
I remember one party at our house in particular, it was a “create your own stew party”. There were about four couples plus my parents and they each had to create their own unique stew with ingredients that my mother provided and I think that they each had to bring an ingredient from a list that was given to them.
I remember watching them in anticipation (I got to be a taste taster) as each couple whipped up their grand masterpiece. Spoons were clinking in pots, meat was sizzling, amazing aromas filled the air and laughter filled the room, they were having so much fun! Someone even added some red wine to their pot of goodness!
I don’t know where that bottle came from, it must have been on the list of ingredients for someone to bring, I had never seen wine in the house before.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity to a kid, they had each completed their stews and ladled them into bowls to be tasted and one would be deemed the winner of the stew making challenge. Each one them was so unique and different and all of them were delicious! But that one with the red wine was the most amazing thing had ever tasted.
It was so rich and hearty and had such a complexity of flavors, I had never tasted anything like that before. It was the winner in my book! I think it did end up winning the contest as well. To this day I will not make a beef stew or pot roast without adding that coveted red wine! It makes all the difference in the world!
- 1 tablespoon good olive oil
- 8 ounces dry cured center cut applewood smoked bacon diced
- 2 1/2 pounds chuck beef cut into 1-inch cubes
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound carrots sliced diagonally into 1-inch chunks
- 2 yellow onions sliced
- 2 teaspoons chopped garlic 2 cloves
- 1/2 cup Cognac
- 1 750 ml. bottle good dry red wine such as Cote du Rhone or Pinot Noir
- 1 can 2 cups beef broth
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves 1/2 teaspoon dried
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature divided
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 pound frozen whole onions
- 1 pound fresh mushrooms stems discarded caps thickly sliced
- Country bread or Sour Dough toasted or grilled and rubbed with garlic clove
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley optional