Beef Stew Preparation
Peel and chop the onion medium fine.
Rinse well the celery and chop it in 1/2 inch pieces.
Peal the carrots, cut them length wise if they are big enough, and then chop in 1/2 inch pieces.
Rinse the Thyme well.
Time to Cook
In a cast iron casserole, sauté the onion, the carrot and the celery in about 3 tablespoons of Olive Oil on a medium – high flame, until the onion gets a nice golden color.
Add the meat, maintain the stove on a medium – high flame, and brown it well.
Before the meat starts pouring its juices in the pan, add the two glasses of wine, stir well, and let the alcohol evaporate…you can smell its pungent essence right away.
In a couple of minutes your stew is ready to start cooking and finally settle down into the casserole; lower the stove to a medium flame, add salt, pepper, the thyme and the tomatoes cut in half, stir well and cover with a lid.
From now on is just a waiting game…stir constantly, every 10 minutes, make sure the flame is not too high or the stew will start sticking to the bottom of the casserole and then burn.
The sauce the beef is cooking in will start doing its job, wrapping the meat with flavor…
This is a good time to think about your side dish.
In the beginning the sauce will look like a broth, that is because the meat is loosing all the water; it won’t look really pretty until about an hour and a half into the cooking.
At that point, the sauce will start turning into a darker color, it will start getting dense, and it will push its oil on the surface…oh, it will look glorious!
Taste the meat, dip a spoon into the sauce, and try it over a toasted slice of bread, sip some wine…is it ready? Another 5 minutes?
Serve over your polenta!
FRESH STRING BEANS COOKED ON A BED OF CHERRY TOMATOES Preparation
Getting Ready with the Ingredients:
Peel the Garlic.
Wash the string beans well and cut the tips off.
Wash the cherry tomatoes and cut them in half or quarters…up to you.
Cooking your dish:
On a medium High flame, on a wide non stick pan sauté the garlic until golden.
Add the tomatoes and slightly reduce the flame, stir well, cover with a lid. Watch it, very hot olive oil and fresh tomatoes are a dangerous duo…since the tomato is basically a “red ball of water”, as soon as you add it in the pan, it will start jumping and spilling everywhere. Make sure you cover the tomatoes right away, and let them sit for about as minute before you open the lid again and stir.
In about 5 minutes the tomatoes should be melted in the oil, it is time now to add the string beans. Add salt and pepper, stir well, lower the fire to a not so generous medium flame…stir every five minutes.
I do like my string beans crunchy , but you can cook them a bit longer if you’d like.
Bring the broth just to a simmer in a saucepan. Add the polenta in a thin stream, stirring all the while with a wood spoon over medium heat. In about a minute the polenta will start separating from the side of the pan...add the cheese, and stir until it disappears. Serve in a bowl or directly on the plate.
NOTE: You can find different kind of polenta...thinner or thicker grain. They all are prepared the same way, but they might require more or less broth...check the box, always! For a stiffer polenta, cook for an extra minute, and for a softer one add slightly more liquid. Try molding your polenta in a bowl, then slice it and grill it; dress it with some sauce, or just some olive oil.