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Tasty Morsels: Savory stew strikes warming chord through the rain

By: Susie Iventosch
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This recipe comes from one of my favorite business owners in the area, a man who learned the dry cleaning trade from his French grandmother. While living with her in his late teens, Tom Van Dyke, owner of Colfax Cleaners, also learned the love of French cooking. Van Dyke calls this his beef stew, but I call it boeuf bourguignon and it is perfect for rainy, blustery days like we’ve seen this week. I knew he was an expert at this classic French dish the day I walked in to drop off some clothes and thought I’d mistakenly walked into a French countryside bistro! Deana Ballard, who’s worked for Van Dyke for years, said, “Boss always takes care of us. He loves to cook and is always bringing food in for our morning break. He concocts things like you wouldn’t believe.” And after being treated to a bowl of his stew, I understand what she means! “I’m a firm believer in comfort food and winter is the perfect time for it,” Van Dyke said. “And I love to share. When I was a teenager, I was fortunate to live with my French grandmother, Gabrielle Arrouzet (Mimi), until I was 18 years old. I got a lot of nice dinners out of that. She did the cooking and I did the dishes.” And, now he does the cooking, and the dishes, and the laundry! Tom’s Hearty French-style Beef Stew (Serve four) 2 pounds stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes (Tom uses beef eye round roast because the meat stays intact better, but I like to use beef chuck because of the flavor.) ¼ cup flour Salt and pepper to taste ½ cups 98 percent fat-free beef broth (1 can) 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce ½ to 1 cup red Burgundy wine 1 clove garlic, minced 1 bouquet garni (tie fresh thyme and parsley sprigs and bay leaf in cheesecloth to make a little sachet bundle), or you can place the herbs (1 bay leaf, 2 sprigs fresh thyme, and 1 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped) directly into the pot. ½ teaspoon paprika 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional) 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder 1 package French onion soup mix 1 cup leeks, white parts only, thinly sliced 3 carrots, sliced into ½ inch slices 2 stalks celery, sliced into ½ inch slices 3 red potatoes, diced Directions Cut meat cross-grain into 1-inch slices, then cube. Place meat in crock pot, and toss with flour, salt and pepper to coat meat. Add all remaining ingredients and stir to mix. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 4-5 hours. Tom says cooking the stew on low for longer make the meat more tender. Serve with crusty French bread. Since my crock pot is very small, I place the meat (dusted in flour, salt and pepper) in a Dutch oven and quickly brown it in 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high on the stove. Remove from stove, add remaining ingredients , cover and cook in 300 degree oven for about 2- 2 ½ hours, or until meat is very tender and veggies are braised. Susie Iventosch can be reached at suziven@gmail.com