A quickie vs not so quickie

There is something that gets your breathing going in a good way when you’re about to be cooking beouf for the next four hours. The knife gets sharpened, vegetables sweat with herb bouquets until they all collapse, stock is skimmed on the back of the stove, wine is poured and the whole house waits.
But there’s not always time for that.
On Saturday, as soon as Ferdinand woke up we were going to go upstate to look at the stars and sleep in a barn. There was a load of laundry still in the basement, a pot of yesterday’s coffee on the stove and a call in for pancakes. All other brain activity was warping its way into a focus on sweaters, pajamas and car snacks. Not much left for beouf. Isn’t it nice though when you come home from being tired and happy and cold and overfed on roadfound food to a stew that’s already done? It is.
And so between it all I browned off beef, threw a chopped up onion in the same pan with a bay leaf, a sprig of parsley and a sprig of thyme with an extra tab of butter and a squall of salt and pepper, waited for them as long as I could, threw in a few chopped carrots, the inside stalks of a head of celery and a good pour of an ale I couldn’t finish the night before. I brought it all to a boil and shoved it in the fridge.
When we came home I put it back on the fire and let it simmer and simmer and simmer. When the beef is tender to calm the ale, all you need is a nugget of soft butter in your palm with as much flour. Smush them together and whisk into the pot. Let it go for another five minutes, and you’re done. Serve with rice and a spicy beet salad on the side and the beet tops sauteed with slivers of garlic and a pour of your best and most beautiful olive oil. If you have it in you, boil eggs that you can chop to garnish the greens with and use for tomorrow’s lunch.

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