Yesterday, I made a batch of beef stew from scratch – no bottled sauces, or pre-fab taste enhancers – just good ole fashioned beef, carrots, potatoes, and onions. The beef was dusted in flour and the sauce was later thicked with some cornflower. It was on the stove, cooking in various stages from 1:30 – 5:30 p.m. In my not so humble opinion, it was delicious! Oh, did I forget to say the sauce also had some nice merlot and red wine vinegar added to deglaze the pan and add depth? The recipe, made by me for the first time and found online, had both.
Every week, I ask my husband and at-home sons what they would like to eat in the approaching days so I can plan a grocery list accordingly. Every week, my husband gives a few suggestions and my sons state barely any. “Food” is the smart alec response that I usually get. But, as with any family, we get into ruts with our meals, and to give us some credit – we do make a point of trying to eat together at the family table every night. Buffalo Chicken, Pasta, Steak, Fajitas, and Hamburgers fill our plates as main courses most evenings. But, I get tired of cooking the same dishes over and over, and I would imagine, we all get tired of eating the same thing week after week. I know I do.
So, last week when I mentioned I wanted to make chili – a favorite of mine but apparently no one else’s – I was vetoed.
“Ugh – mom.” was uttered with audible groaning for effect by both my boys.
“Ugh, – hon. Chili?” was my husband’s response, followed by an acquiescent remark of “Okay, but you know we really don’t like it.”
“I know” was my response “but I do and I like to have a little variety once in a while.”
So, chili was made. I used a different recipe and made sure our meal included some other more palatable foodstuffs such as cornbread and tossed salad for the majority at the table who did not care for the chili. It was okay but I didn’t care for the recipe as much as my standard or better yet, my mom’s chili which I remember as always being delicious – again without any pre-made packets of ingredients. We all survived the meal – has all we have for the last 25 years of having chili on occasion.
But, yesterday, as I decided to make beef stew I felt a little trepidation. I know this was not going to be an easy sell. But, I had over a pound of stew beef in the freezer and it was a stew kind of day – cold and snowy. As I mentioned above, I started cooking in the early afternoon and by late afternoon a great aroma filled the house. When my boys wandered in, after work and after school, both asked, “what’s for dinner.” When I answered beef stew, I caught the looks. Both were smart enough not to say a thing, but I know what was being thought!
“Ugh, Mom! Stew?” was probably simmering in both their heads, just as the pot simmered on the stove.
As I called them for dinner, with the bowls of stew steaming on the table amidst fresh cut bread and a bowl of equally fresh raspberries, I knew this would be a taste test. The stew looked good and smelled good, but would it be “good?” Or, would it be another “chili” meal?
Luckily, the stew was enjoyed by all! One of my sons even had two full bowls! They both said it was much tastier than chili and seemed to enjoy the hot meal on a very cold fall day.
Stew vs. Chili? In my house, stew wins!