How Stew Saved My Life

How Stew Saved My Life

Dena Moran

The warm weather made Olde Hudson’s move to new quarters on Warren Street much easier than it would have been with mounds of snow and your good wishes made me positively buoyant.  But I still needed more—more energy, more time, more pleasure and more nourishment for the job ahead.

Being who I am and what I do every day I looked for those things by doubling down on the joy of being able to cook every day with great ingredients.

My choice for the best meals often has been stew.  Maybe because stews transform familiar ingredients mysteriously into great meals.  I’m beginning to believe that they evolved to give us the happiness of place and taste and process.

So whether you call it stew or estofado, ragout or stufato we need to celebrate the time-honored marriage of meat, fish, vegetables and legumes cooking in liquid. Giving them personality and cultural context with spices and serving them in the simple manner they dictate—that’s the bonus.

So I look around at the shelves at Olde Hudson and decide if Italian or Indian, Asian or French is the accent I want over noodles or rice.  Or do I just want to add potatoes to the pot?  Beans?  Yup.  Stew saved my life!

The principles of stew are always the same but here’s a  basic Veal Stew -- a delicate welcome-to-spring offering.  It serves 4 or 2 lucky people twice.

I tablespoon Vermont Butter and Cheese Butter
2 lbs veal, cubed
Optional: 1 cup Peewee Potatoes or 1 lb Yukon Gold Potatoes cut into cubes
1 sprig tarragon
1 bunch of scallions or 1 lb of shallots or onions
Salt and pepper
½ cup of white wine
1 cup of English Peas or Baby Carrots cut into 1-inch pieces or almost any sort of mushrooms, etc. What’s is in the veggie bin? 

Add oil and butter to a heated heavy skillet and then add the meat—don’t crowd it, each piece should have contact with the pan. Cook it until the meat is browned on the bottom, 4-5 minutes. Scrape any stuck pieces up and turn the meat,

Add tarragon, onions, shallots or scallions and salt and pepper and stir until they soften then add the wine or water and potatoes, if you’re using them, turn heat to low and cover. You can cook this 35-40 minutes… meat and potatoes should be should be fork tender.

Uncover, add the veggies and allow to steam right on top for another 5-6 minutes.
If you haven’t made this with potatoes serve over Jasmine rice or wide noodles.

These ingredients can be found at Olde Hudson