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Alice Waters’ Beef Stew

It was the first cold night of October, and the first real sign of Fall in California. San Francisco was slowly being engulfed by fog, and it was a night for curling up on the couch and watching a movie. I had the urge to make a stew or something comforting. I had picked up “The Art of Simple Food” by the infamous Alice Waters. Thumbing through the book, I was captivated by her description on how to braise & stew meat correctly. This was all the inspiration I needed. I took off to the store and gathered some stewing meat, aromatics, and some fresh bread. The recipe was for a simple beef stew, but nothing is ever that simple. For the first time in a long time, I had a cook book next to me in the kitchen, meticulously following the steps Alice had laid out in her recipe. I added my own modifications and substituted things here and there, but followed the recipe and method pretty closely. I had made stews before, but not quite in this way. If you don’t have her book, you need to buy it. No matter what your level of cooking skill is, you should own this book. The stew came out phenomenal. The layers of flavor were incredibly deep and delicious. And, its all about the method. This is truly an example that the whole is greater than the sum of all parts. Removing cooked items and putting them back in at different times as opposed to just throwing everything in at once and letting it cook is just one of the ideas that Alice sets forth in this recipe.Needless to say this was a delicious dish, one that I will make again. But, I was humbled and in awe of the process and how much of a difference it makes.