Smoky BBQ’d Stew
Last fall, I took my two adorable parents up to our cottage. They are not young, and our cottage is very rustico, so this was a big event.
I had planned everything carefully - putting them in my bedroom because it is on the main floor instead of down a somewhat treacherous set of stairs - and of course bringing all the groceries and figuring out the meals ahead of time. We watched the weather carefully, too, because I wanted it to be sunny and warm for what could end up being their only visit.
We arrived and it was lovely outside, so they decided they wanted to walk the 100 stairs (yes, really 100 - my kids have counted) down to the dock. As the sun went down over the lake, we started the climb back up to the cabin. It took a while - a long while - and lots of rest stops, but we made it.
Time to start dinner. I had planned a simple veal stew, with a base of onions, carrots and celery, veal pieces seasoned and lightly floured, and some stock, herbs and wine for simmering. Easy peasy. Cottagey. What I didn’t plan was for a big wind to blow in and knock the power out.
Ok, no problem. The power is always going out at the cottage. It was only about 7, so we took out some cheeses and olives, and the frozen bottle of Grey Goose, and we sat on the deck playing cards for a while.
By 9, the power was not on, and I started to worry. My mom was lobbying hard for a trip into town and a restaurant meal. It wouldn’t have been the end of the world, but the restaurants at the cottage are just so bad. And my dad and I were up for an adventure.
So I went into the cabin for a bag of charcoal, and we started up the old Weber. When the coals were glowing, I dumped them out of the chimney, and put an old Dutch oven over the BBQ grate. I threw in a messy mirpoix, then I browned the meat. In went the stock, the wine, the herbs, and a handful of olives since they were already out. I resisted the urge to add vodka.
I was worried the coals wouldn’t generate enough heat, so I kept the lid on while the stew simmered. At about 10:30, we decided to try it.
I ran into the cabin again for plates, and fleece jackets for all of us, and a few candles. We dined there, at an old wooden picnic table, high above the lake. The stew was steaming hot, and tender, and the most smoky, delicious mixture we had ever tasted.
The power came back on in time to do the dishes.
My rustico cabin in the woods.