Beef and Bacon Stew

December 19th, 2018


With the holidays fast approaching, thoughts turn to warming comfort food.  I would even consider this Beef and Bacon Stew a worthy meal for Christmas Eve or Day.  It has been a challenging week.  We were hit by a freak snowstorm that normally would not occur in North Carolina.  Five days without power tested our coping capacity.

Snow in 2018

It was a test of our capacity to get along without things we all take for granted.  We stayed warm because our home is well insulated and  we have a gas fireplace and a wood burning fireplace.  We stayed well fed because we have a gas stove and oven, plus the grill grate in the fireplace.  We stayed hydrated with jugs of water and other drinks.  The only thing missing was a shower.  That’s why we have friends.  Thank you to Ron and Jackie for a much needed clean up and a delicious dinner.  But next year we are getting a whole house generator.  Weather in our area seems to have taken a more violent and unpredictable bent.



David is actually responsible for this delicious stew.  Over the years he has been cooking more of our meals with creativity and elan.  While I was finishing my wonderful new book in the series from Louis Penny, Kingdom of the Blindhe was chopping and assembling this flavorful dish.  It did require a new ingredient.  Miso Paste.  I found it at Whole Foods in the refrigerator section near the cellophane boxed lettuces.  Do not leave it out as it adds a great depth of flavor to the sauce.

Chistmas silliness

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.  I couldn’t resist including this outtake of our Christmas card photo shoot.


1 Bottle of dry red wine
1 2 1/2 boneless beef chuck roast
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. kosher salt, plus more
8 oz. bacon
3 medium red onions
3 medium carrots
8 coves garlic
4 large sprigs thyme
2 Tbsp. white miso paste
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 cup parsley leaves and tender stems
Crusty bread (for serving)

Complete recipe here.

A Big Pot of Chili

October 4th, 2012

Back in early Summer Larry from Big Dude’s Eclectic Ramblings had a giveaway on his blog.  He was giving away his homemade chili powder to 3 lucky winners.  I was one of the winners.  He uses high quality herbs and spices from Penzy’s in his chili blend.  It is made up of chipotle pepper, ancho pepper, garlic powder, ground cumin, Mexican oregano, paprika, onion powder, cilantro, and thyme powder.

All I can tell you is that it is like chili in a jar.  One sniff of it will transport you to visions of a big pot of chili.  Larry asked for feedback on his blend and all I can say is “don’t change a thing”.  This is now the blend I will use in every pot of chili that I make.  I think he should market it.

With Fall in the air I knew it was time to get out my big, deep cast iron pot to make a batch of chili.  My chili has always been made as a whim on my part.  I have made it with chunks of beef, flavored it with chocolate, and made one pot with so many peppers in it that our guests couldn’t eat it.  There has never been a set recipe.  But this pot turned out so well that I am committing it to memory and this post.

I like contrast in a bowl of chili so I used three kinds of beans; black beans, cannellini beans and chili beans (flavored pinto beans).  I wanted a quick chili so I used ground beef.  The sauce was a combination of canned crushed tomatoes and canned marinara sauce.  But what made it really good was Larry’s chili powder blend.

Thanks Larry for a great gift.  When I run out I will gladly pay you for a new supply.


1 1/3 pounds ground chuck
1 large onion, chopped
3 heaping tablespoons Chili Blend
Salt and pepper to taste
1 28 ounce can crushed, peeled Italian tomatoes
1 1/2 cups Marinara Sauce (I like Rao’s Homemade Sauce)
1 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 15 ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 15 ounce can Harvest Farms Organic chili beans (not drained)
Cayenne pepper to taste (I did not use it.  The blend was just right for my taste)

Brown ground beef and onion in a pot until cooked through.  Drain off fat.  Return to stove and add chili blend and salt and pepper.  Cook stirring for a few minutes.  Add canned tomatoes and marinara sauce.  Reduce heat to low and cook stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes.  Add beans and continue to cook for an additional 30 minutes on low heat.  Add cayenne pepper if chili is not hot enough for you.

Printable recipe

When Only the Best Will Do – Vandele Farms

June 9th, 2011

Located on Cane Creek Road in Lake Lure is a farm run by the Crocker family.  Kathleen and Larry Crocker have been raising cows and pigs for many years.  Origninally they used the meat for their own consumption, but there was so much interest in what they were doing they began raising their animals for commercial consumption.  The meat from Vandele Farms is USDA approved, but most importantly, it is chemical, additive and antibiotic free.  Their beef is pastured and given a supplement of vegetarian, chemical free feed.  Take a look at their website and the gallery of pictures showing pigs frolicking in the fields.  There is something to be said for meat from animals who have been treated humanely.  I, for one, feel good about buying farm raised meat and supporting my local economy.

From that beautifully marbled beef chuck I made my Daube de Boeuf Provencale.  The long slow cooking rendered the beef tenderly delicious.   The origin of the word daube comes from the French name of the cooking vessel, a daubiere, in which the beef stew is cooked.  The vessel is shaped in such a way that it traps the moisture that is released in the cooking process and keeps the stew moist.  You can achieve the same results in any heavy covered casserole by placing a round of parchment paper over the beef mixture.

I have looked at many daube recipes.  The Provencal origin of the recipe dictates that it should include olives, but many of the recipes I saw do not include olives.  If you are an olive lover, do include them.  But be aware that they do impart their distinctive flavor to the dish.

I am flying to Anchorage, Alaska today to join David on his motorcycle trip.  I will post when I can.  The guys are going halibut fishing while in Homer, Alaska so I am hoping to get pictures of the catch and the preparation of the fish.  We will journey from Alaska to Vancouver, where I will meet up with  a fellow blogger.  I am excited to meet her.  Then it is on to Bend, Oregon where we will check out some of the wineries and enjoy the scenery before we girls fly home.  An adventure awaits!


3 lbs beef chuck, cut into cubes
1 cup red wine
2 tablespoons brandy
5 tablespoons  olive oil, divided
2 slices bacon, diced
1 large onion, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 large carrot, grated
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 (32 ounce) can whole tomatoes, with juices
12 green olives, pitted and halved
1/4 cup white mushrooms
1/4 cup chanterelle mushrooms
1/4 cup shiitake mushrooms
3 fresh parsley sprigs, chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste

Place beef, wine, brandy and 3 tablespoons oil in an airtight container and refregerate at least 2 hours (overnight is best).

In a large frying pan, cook bacon over medium heat; remove bacon and set aside, reserving drippings in pan.

Remove beef from marinade, reserving marinade, and blot dry.  Brown at medium heat in bacon drippings with 2 extra tablespoons of olive oil if needed in 3 to 4 batches.  Set beef aside on plate as browned.  Sweat onions, garlic and carrots in pan for 5 to 6 minutes.  Add browned beef, reserved beef marinade, bay leaf, thyme, tomatoes and olives.  Bring to a boil.  Cover with a round of parchment paper and the lid and place in a 350 degree oven.  Bake for 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

During the last 15 minutes of cooking, sear mushrooms in a separate frying pan over medium-high heat in 2 tablespoons oil.  When beef is complete, remove from oven and stir in mushrooms and parsley and season with salt and pepper.  Thicken with a slurry of flour and water if needed.

Printable recipe

Chicken and Corn Stew with Corn Wafers

September 8th, 2010

There is a hint of Autumn in the air.  We had a wonderful Labor Day weekend with our extended family here at the lake.  I didn’t manage to get my camera out even once to take pictures of all of the food.  David smoked a pork butt for pulled pork and made barbecued beans and blue cheese potato salad from recipes from blogging buddy Dave at My Year on the Grill.  It was all top rate.  David did take pictures and will be posting about his excellent meal soon. 

But in the meantime here is a recipe that is perfect for the cooler nights ahead.  It is a stew that uses end of summer bounty to good advantage.  It calls for plum tomatoes, but any tomatoes from the garden will do.  Add to that sweet corn, green peppers and basil from the herb garden and you have a meal to savor or a wonderful way to freeze what is left from the vegetable garden or from the farmer’s market.  But to me, what makes this stew so special is the topping.  Thin and buttery corn wafers are floated on the top to add just the right finishing touch.  The next time I make this stew, I will double the recipe for the wafers.  They are addictive!

We will be traveling to Michigan to visit family for the next few days so I will not be blogging again until next week.  I will catch up with all of you then.  Enjoy this easy stew.


For the corn wafers:
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons sugar
1 large egg white
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan

For the Soup:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 large boneless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 small onion, chopped fine
1 green bell pepper, chopped fine
1 rib of celery, chopped fine
1 1/4 cups chicken broth (or more if needed)
4 fresh or canned plum tomatoes, chopped
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 cup fresh corn kernels including the pulp scraped from the cobs (2 ears of corn)
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallion greens
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, chopped

Make the corn wafers:  In a bowl with an electric mixer cream the butter, add the sugar, and beat the mixture until it is light and fluffy.  Add the egg white and the salt and beat the mixture at low speed for 5 seconds, or until it is just combined. (The mixture will be lumpy.)  Add the cornmeal, the flour, and the Parmesan and stir the mixture until it is just combined.  Transfer the mixture to a small bowl and chill it, covered, for at least 4 hours or overnight.  Arrange rounded teaspoons of the mixture 3 inches apart on buttered baking sheets and with a fork dipped in cold water flatten them carefully to form 2-inch rounds.  Bake the wafers in batches in the middle of a preheated 425 degree oven for 5 to 6 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown, with a spatula transfer the wafers immediately to racks, and let them cool.

In a 9-inch cast-iron skillet heat the oil over moderately high heat until it is hot but not smoking and in it brown the chicken, patted dry and seasoned with salt and pepper.  Remove chicken from pan.  To the fat remaining in the skillet add the butter and the flour and cook the roux over moderately low heat, stirring constantly, until it is the color of peanut butter.  Stir in the onion, the bell pepper, and the celery and cook the mixture, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened.  Add the broth, the tomatoes, the chili powder, and the chicken with any juices that have accumulated in the bowl, simmer the stew, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through, and stir in the corn.  Transfer the chicken to a work surface and let it cool until it can be handled.  Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces and stir it into the stew.  The stew may be prepared up to this point 1 day in advance and kept covered and chilled.  Stir in the scallion greens and the basil, season the stew with salt and pepper, and serve it in bowls, topped with the corn wafers.  Serves 4 to 6.

© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.