Saturday, August 1, 2015


Our Sonoma summer is back, but we have yet to give up beef stew and red wine. Our trick? Simply eat it after the coastal fog kicks back in after 6pm. 

We've had some changes: new jobs, new people, new talents,  and new locations. I moved to Napa, the little sister is in the city (San Francisco) spicing up the corporate life for the summer, and my family signed up with, meaning we have new visitors every month. We have people all over the world coming to help us out at Bella Luce (our 4-acre "farm"). It was a blast showing a French girl and a couple from England what a real American firework show looks like over the 4th of July. I worry that they will be forever disappointed back home after experiencing this years Sonoma fireworks. You sit below the fireworks, and stain your clothes with ash. 

Not only has the stream of new faces increased, but our network of friends and family has flourished. There is never a quiet faceless day at Bella Luce. Our little spot of heaven in Sonoma is the most beautiful community I have ever experienced. 

The stew below has been a staple in my father's cooking for the last 20 years. My dad swears by it stating, "Everybody always enjoys it. There's no stock or anything, you just cook it in wine. There's just a sense of wonder in the thing. It was the first recipe I made with it [the family crock pot], and nothing rang the bell like that one. Throw it all in the crock pot, cover it, and forget about it. What's interesting about it is that you are making a dinner meat dish at 9 in the morning. I always thought that was kind of odd. Everybody loves it." 

Dad's Red Wine Beef Stew
Serving: 10-12 servings
Time: 1 hour prep, 8 hours in slow cooker

  • 1 boneless beef sirloin steak, 3-lbs cut into 1/2-inch pieces (pre-cut stew meat fine)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 4 slices bacon, diced
  • 20 mini carrots, approximate
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 small new red potatoes, quartered
  • 8 to 10 mushrooms, sliced
  • 20 to 24 fresh pearl onions 
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 3 cups of a deep rich red wine (we usually end up using a Napa Cabernet)

Coat beef with flour, shaking off excess. Set aside.

Add a small amount of olive oil to a large skillet. Cook bacon over medium heat until partially cooked. Add beef and cook until browned. Remove both the meat and bacon.

Layer potatoes, carrots, onions, mushrooms, garlic, marjoram, bay leaf, salt, thyme, pepper, bacon and beef mixture and wine in slow cooker. We always use our large slow cooker, as one trial in the medium sized stained some countertops. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or until beef is tender. Discard bay leaf before serving.

Remember, just because there is 3 cups of heavy red wine in this stew that doesn't mean you shouldn't add more in your glass.

Gluten Free

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