Sunday Night Dinner, Feb 20, 2011

The three day weekend pushed the weekly “fancy meal” to Sunday instead of Saturday.

This week’s dinner was a Beef Stew from Osteria Stellina in Point Reyes Station:

Osteria Stellina’s beef stew packs a warm punch, Michael Bauer

Mrs. Flannestad saved this article a couple weeks back and put it on her wish list for future meals. I do take requests.

Served it on Polenta with a 2006 Syrah from Navarro Vineyards. The warmth of the Cinnamon and spice make this a very tasty stew, indeed!

* 3 pounds boneless beef or veal shoulder, cut into 1- to 1 1/2-inch cubes
* — Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
* 3 tablespoons olive oil
* 4 to 6 cups low-sodium beef or veal stock or broth, or enough to almost cover the meat
* 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
* 1 small pinch red pepper flakes
* 2 whole cloves
* 1 cinnamon stick, about 2 inches long
* 2 carrots (about 9 ounces), chopped into 3/4-inch pieces
* 1 medium yellow onion, chopped into 3/4-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
* 4 celery stalks, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1 cup)
* 2 tablespoons chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
* 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
* 1 tablespoon stemmed, coarsely chopped winter or summer savory (optional)
* 1 fresh bay leaf (or 2 dried bay leaves)
* 1 cup red wine (see Note)

Michael Bauer: “The cold wind and rain whipped down Highway 1 and swirled around the corner in front of Osteria Stellina in Point Reyes Station. Sequestered inside the restaurant, with a view of downtown through the storefront windows, we were fortunate to be spooning into beef stew.”

Michael Bauer: “Served over soft polenta, it was simply one of the best versions I’ve had. Because I was with another food person, we spent the entire meal debating what made it so good.”

I scaled the recipe down a bit, since there was only two of us. 2 Pounds of Red Dot Chuck Roast purchased at the always reliable Avedano’s.

All the chopping done, the stew in the oven, time for a beer! Racer 5 from Bear Republic in Sonoma is always a reliable choice, (unless you are a super taster).

Goat cheddar from Redwood Hill Farms as a snack while we’re waiting for the polenta and stew to cook. Keep an eye out for the smoked version of same, as it is even tastier.

Polenta is one of those slightly annoying cooked grain dishes. It takes a long time to cook at a very low heat. It will inevitably stick to the bottom of the pan and burn. No bueno.

However, if you have a rice maker with a porridge setting or slow cooker, you can easily make it in them.

On the other hand, if you don’t have a rice cooker or slow cooker, you can just bring it to a simmer then toss it in a low oven to cook, instead of on top of the stove. Saves you a lot of stirring.

1 Cup Polenta Meal
4 Cups Water (or stock)

Preheat oven to 300 F. Bring the well salted water almost to a simmer. While whisking, add the polenta meal to the water in a steady stream. When it comes to a simmer and starts to thicken, move it to the oven for an hour, checking occasionally for consistency. If it needs, add more water to loosen it up. When it is well cooked and has a shiny appearance, spoon onto a serving plate.

I guess the funniest part is that Chef Christian Caiazzo’s Mom is in my Mom’s circle of friends in Sun Lakes, AZ. I haven’t met him, yet, but I have made cocktails for his Mom.