On the Plus Side of Winter

Two Thursdays ago, my friend Sonya emailed me:

Hey! You guys around this weekend? We have the urge to make a big pot of stew and drink wine with someone.  Please say yes!!!

I could not have replied fast enough. Yes! Yes! Yes! Is tomorrow too soon? Or how about now? Can I come over right now? It was another single-digit temperature week up here in New York and most of my day was spent holed up in my (old, drafty) house, dressed like Shaun White, and listening to 1010 WINS for any breaking news on the next storm rolling in.

I know what you’re thinking right now — another winter whinefest from Jenny, right? Right about now, the entire population Minnesota is rolling their eyes at me.

Not so fast. Believe it or not, today I’d like to focus on the upshot to the cold weather snap in New York (though it seems to have tapered off for the time being) namely the dinner invitations coming in left and right from people like Sonya — people who want to make a big pot of stew and drink wine. With us!

I’ll tell you something else about these people: They know their way around a kitchen. To determine this, one need look no further than the cast iron pans and Dutch Ovens sitting atop their stoves. Each one seemed to boast the kind of patina that you just can’t fake, as though it has been handed down by the cook’s great-grandmother. Inside the pot? These days, there’s a 99% chance it’s some kind of stewy beef. Not just something like our back-pocket Belgian Beef Stew that we are used to scaring up in under an hour on a weeknight. I’m talking meat that has spent some quality time in the oven, braising and reducing to deep concentrated deliciousness, making the house smell like the only place you want to be. Check these out…

Braisy Beefy Stewy Dinners Fit for Cold-Weather Entertaining

Carbonnade of Beef with Prunes served with big fat noodles, simple roast carrots, crusty bread. Perfect. Cooked for us by Sonya and Pierre.

Beef Bourguignon (above, photo credit: Food Network) at Todd and Anne’s house. Should also be noted that they served the kids homemade mac and cheese, too, which ended up being decimated by the grown-ups.

Braised Short Ribs with Dijon at our friends Reagan and Scott’s house. The beef literally melted off the bones.

Moroccan Beef Stew (shown way up top, photo by Brian Leatart for Bon Appetit) made with golden raisins and served with couscous by our neighbors Rebecca and David, who have two kids under two. (A better person might have felt more guilty about this. Like maybe I should’ve been the one cooking for them?)

Thai Beef Stew with Lemongrass and Noodles OK fine, no one has actually made this for us yet, but how good does that look? Currently accepting invitations….

Stay warm!

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Wow, all recipes look outstanding. I wonder if the Beef Bourguignon is easier than Julia Child’s version (delicious but takes time).
Jenny, if I could I would take that weather from you and bring it here….we’re drying up in California, it’s that bad. Lowest precipitation since the drought of 1977. I hope the weather alleviates for you very soon ~ Julie


Do you know of any good stews that use sirloin that end up really tender? I have a lot of sirloin on hand, but it can be sort of tough.

Helen @ the crispy crouton

Beef bourguignon is one of my favourites. I notice this recipe recommends Cote du Rhone but to be honest I think any good French red does the job in this dish!
By the way – if it’s any consolation, we’re not freezing here in the UK but we’re getting washed away with all the rain and flooding we’ve had this winter.


Yaee! You are back! We missed you!

In the cold winters of Upstate NY growing up my parents used to make Beef Bourguignon. I am not sure they ever used a recipe as they loved to just “wing” it. Whether it tasted good or not is one thing – but the memory of it is grand. Thanks for sharing! Enjoy!


Made that Belgian beef stew last night for my little family! Always so good! We’re getting more crap weather this weekend in DC, so perhaps a more complicated stew–to share–is just the thing?

A Life From Scratch

Complain away – this winter is HORRID. Spring. Soon. PLEASE.

I just entertained friends yesterday with Curtis Stone’s pot roast and it was killer. We all felt so cozy and full.


To @M (and the others who were nice enough to email me over the past few days): Thank you for missing me! I took the week off because the girls were on vacation and we were traveling — but I promise i’m now back to regularly scheduled programming! And to other commenters, thank you as always for your suggestions — totally trying that mushroom bourgignon. mmmmmm


Your timing could not have been better – I have three pounds of beef stew meat from my meat CSA and yet another polar vortex is about to hit Chicago.


Yes! Yes! I have a pot roast in the Crockpot today. Giving the Savory Maple and Dijon Pot Roast on The Kitchn a try. Tomorrow I am going to will Spring to Nebraska with That Chicken you posted last week.


Those two photos!!! Love.
The second one reminds me so much of my dad. Always… leftover roast with gravy layered on top of bread. The best!

domonique | a bowl full of simple

I have made Ina Garten’s Beef Bourguignon a gazillion times and love it more each time. I have also been making a soul warming chicken curry this winter that is amazing. will send it over when i get the post live on my blog. oh and i pre-ordered sonya’s book too! thank you for this bright spot on a gray day.


I’m sorry – I’m a Minnesotan and I did roll my eyes when I read the second paragraph. Our perceptions of cold might vary (single digits? above zero? We call that balmy.) but we can all agree, spring could come any ol’ day now.


I just found your site, and I love it! The way you talk about your picky-eating-kids cracks me up (considering I was one not too long ago…)

MB Manion Morell

Jenny, thank you for finding the bright side of this polar vortex… (And oh my, do you have amazing foodie friends – can I borrow them?) I’m now so inspired by this post that I’m looking forward to inviting some friends around for a big pot of stew while we wait for spring in Virginia (really, Minnesotans… it IS freezing here too:)