Featured Recipes
Beef Stew with Anchovies and Thyme

I know what your're thinking, no one likes anchovies, right? Well, do you like Caesar salad? Caesar dressing gets a lot of it's flavor from anchovies. It adds a little salt, a little tang, and a little something that's hard to describe. It brings savory dishes together and balances them in a unique way, and its presence on the palate can't be likened to anything fishy. Free your mind and give it a try. If you use filets packed in oil, simply use them the way they come out of the tin. If you can get salt packed (better), rinse them and proceed.

3 tablespoons olive oil +/-
4 pounds beef chuck -- large cubes
1 large yellow onion -- large dice
5 cloves garlic -- minced
3 medium carrots -- large chunks
4 stalks celery -- large chunks
6 anchovy fillets -- mashed
2 tablespoons dried thyme -- 1.5 teaspoons fresh
2 tablespoons brandy
2 cups hearty red wine
1 1/4 cups beef stock
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 heaping tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon mace
fresh ground black pepper
salt -- to taste

In a heavy dutch, brown beef on all sides in olive oil, working in batches if neccessary. Use a hot pan and don't crowd it, otherwise the beef will water out and steam instead of searing. Remove and reserve. Add vegetables, anchovies, and thyme, saute until vegetables begin to soften (~10 minutes.) Remove and add to beef. Deglaze dutch with liquids, add tomato paste. Stir flour into beef/vegetables, add back to dutch. Stir. Season, place in a preheated 300 degree oven, cook for 3 hours.

Alternately, do initial cooking in a large skillet, and combine everything in a crockpot and cook on low for 6 hours.

Serve on a chilly night, in a deep bowl, over hot, cheese polenta, accompanied by the same wine you used in the prep. I tested this with a Cab- Merlot blend, and it worked nicely. Go for something bold, with deep fruit notes, and modest to minimal oak.

Three Cheese Polenta

1 2/3 cups chicken stock
1 2/3 cups milk
2/3 cup cream
1 cup polenta
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 cup shredded asiago cheese
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/4 cup shredded romano cheese

Combine liquids in a saucepan and hold over medium heat until barely boiling. Add seasonings, stir to dissolve, add polenta, and stir until combined. When the pot again reaches the boil, stir again, lower heat, and simmer covered until nearly all of the liquid is absorbed. Polenta will have the consistency of, well, cornmeal mush. Not soupy, but not stiff. Remove from heat and stir in cheeses. Serve immediately.

A simpler version can be made by using only parmesan cheese, accounting for the total volume of the cheeses. Not as complex a flavor but very good none the less.

Leftover polenta can be chilled, cut into patties, and browned in a little butter or olive oil for an accompaniment to sauteed greens and your favorite meat entree.