I just got home from the ship Friday and the weather here has been cold and miserable. Damp and dreary, drizzling and gray. Yuk!
So, I decided to cook up a pot of my favorite beef stew. It’s great stuff to have when it’s cold outside. It’ll fill you up and keep you satisfied for a while.
It’s one of the very first things I learned to cook (if you don’t count sandwiches or macaroni and cheese from the box). 😉
I remember the first time I made it. I actually had quite a bit of help. I had recently moved out of my dads house and rented a little efficiency apartment from him across the street.
I was working on the party boats down the block and a couple of other jobs too, plus going to school so I wasn’t really into cooking all that much. One of my jobs was as a dishwasher at a Greek place on the corner. They let me eat there for free, so that took care of dinner most nights. The other job was as a galley hand on the party boats. I sold ready made sandwiches and drinks to the passengers when they wanted a break from fishing and helped with things like getting lines untangled, baiting hooks, and cleaning the decks. Part of the deal was I got to eat (and drink) for free. That was only on the weekends.
I was a lot more into partying back then and never thought too much about groceries (tho I sure never went hungry). I made enough to live on but had to live cheap. I remember I would buy a loaf of white bread, a small jar of miracle whip and a package of baloney and that would do me for the week. With maybe a couple of cans of soup (and some beer) in there too. 🙂
One day, some friends of mine, fishermen friends I knew through my dad, came by and asked me to cook them up a pot of stew. They asked me since most of the guys didn’t keep a full time place of their own. They stayed on the boats mostly and there’s not a lot of comfort to be had on those little snapper boats. Sometimes they would rent an apartment from my dad, but only if they were going to be in for a while (and if they felt like they had the money to spare from more important things like having a good time). My dad used to get so mad at me for letting them come over to clean up or store their stuff, but that’s another story…
So, they came by. Storm’n Norman, O’Brian (OB), Bucky, and Danny, with a hunk of meat, some potatos, carrots, onions, and a BIG bottle of Lambrusco (the secret ingredient). We would check out the progress, throw in some stuff, stir it up, add a shot of wine, then pass the bottle around. I’ll never forget cooking up that pot of stew. It smelled so good! It was delicious! And I still make it the same way.
No recipe. Same secret ingredient. Maybe not quite so much of it tho. 😉
I think of my old fishermen friends every time I make it and wish they were still around, but I left Florida a long time ago and I never hear much of anyone over there any more. It’s all changed so much. Most of what I grew up with is long gone, including the people. 🙁
If you want to try to make a pot. I’ll give you the start, but it’s mostly just a few basics and then throwing in whatever’s around.
Capt Jills Favorite Beef Stew
1-2 lbs beef (chuck roast works great) (cut into large pieces)
1-2 large onions (cut in half and then thick slices)
1-2 large Idaho potatos (cut into 1-2″ pieces)
6 carrots (cut into 1-2″ pieces)
2 stalks celery (cut into small pieces)
6 beef boullion cubes
1 tbsp (real) butter
1-2 pkgs brown or mushroom gravy mix (to taste)
1-2 pkgs frozen veggies (depending on what’s around)
1 cup (or more) red wine (I use Lambrusco)
Throw the butter in the pot with the onions and stir it around a bit. Then throw in the meat to brown. Season it up with some Worsteshire sauce, onion salt, garlic, celery salt, Mrs Dash, pepper, or whatever else you like for seasoning. Once the meat gets browned, add a little water (couple of tablespoons) and a couple of shots of the wine (I like to use Lambrusco). You can add the boullion cubes and celery any time.
Once the meat starts to get tender, add the carrots and potatos. You’ll need more liquid now, so cook up the gravy in a small pot and add it to the stew once it thickens up. From now on, you can add whatever you want. I wait to add the frozen vegetables til near the end, since I like them to still be nice and bright colored (and not mushy). I usually add a package of mixed vegetables, maybe a pack of cut green beans, maybe some green peas, just depends on what I have in the freezer. Sometimes I like to add fresh mushrooms.
I add a little more of the wine right before dishing out the stew, that way there’s a real taste of it in the stew. I may also have a glass along with the stew and not just in the stew. 😉