The makings of a delicious stew.
I survived my first week back in the ER taking care of patients, giving medications and even putting in a few IVs (it turns out my brain didn't turn to mush after having a baby). I did have a moment of panic, however, as I sat on the couch after my first shift, legs aching and mind racing, regarding my sudden loss of complete freedom that I've enjoyed the last two years. My life and the life of my family will now be planned out around my weekly and rotating three 12-hour shifts.
Days. Nights. Weekends. And holidays.
It felt good, however, to get on the bus bright and early before my shift, coffee in hand and NPR in my ear. It felt wonderful to exercise and stretch my brain in ways I haven't in years. And it felt strange not to see my little girl awake as she was already asleep when I got home and was still sleeping when I left the next morning.
It also felt strangely nice to miss both Alice and Lee.
One thing that feels differently this time is how I chose to eat while at work. My eating habits have changed drastically over the last few years and I intend to keep healthy eating a priority, especially during the dreaded night shift when my self-control seems to waiver. Packing good food will be paramount for me to be successful in not falling back into old habits, making meal planning on my days off so very important.
So since I will be working the next three days, today I am making stew! My dear friend Ashlan gave me a rough template for a stew she made and, after making it a few times and tinkering with an ingredient or two, I've decided it's the best stew that I've ever made. This stew is made in steps over a few hours and while that may seem tedious, your time will be rewarded with mouth-watering smells and a soul-warming dinner. Here you go.
Bacon & Carmelized Onion Beef Stew
- 1 lbs stew beef
- 5 or 6 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into pieces
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced
- 4 or 5 red potatoes, cubed
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 2 carrots, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups kale, ribboned
- 1 cup red wine
- 3 cups broth, homemade if you have it (super easy recipe here)
- 2 tbs butter
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 rind of Parmesan (optional)
- Salt & pepper
- In a large pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. When it is melted and before it starts browning, add the onions and a pinch or two of salt. Stir the onions to coat and then let them do their caramelizing magic, continuing to stir occasionally, for 35 to 45 minutes. The goal is not to burn them but to cook them until they are golden in color and smelling divine. Once they are caramelized, remove them from the pot and cook the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon and pour out the bacon fat.
- In a bowl, toss the stew beef with a few pinches of salt and a couple cranks of fresh ground pepper. Working in small batches, brown the beef in the same pot as you cooked the onions and bacon. When finished, deglaze the pan with the red wine and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes before adding the bacon and the caramelized onions back to the pot. Add the garlic, bay leaves, and stock and bring it to a boil. Toss in the Parmesan rind and then cover the pot and reduce to a simmer for about an hour and a half to two hours, depending on when you are planning to eat. (Side note - The rind helps to give a deeper, more robust flavor to stews. I learned the rind-saving trick a few years ago and now I never throw one away!)
- About 30 or so minutes before serving, add the potatoes. Twenty or so minutes before serving, add the carrots and celery. And then finally, 5 or so minutes before serving, stir in the kale.
- Grab some bowls, fish out the bay leaves and the Parmesan rind and dish up what might just be the most delicious stew ever. Make it and let me know what you think.
Having a fit about her cold hands but refusing to put on her gloves. Oh, toddlers!