The Most Confident Dinner Party Menu

I understand why I felt this way. Growing up, I’d go to my Grandfather’s for dinner every Sunday evening. The dead-ringer to Robert Mitchum, Bill made a delicious stew. He also carried his comb and money in his pocket on his shirt, used baking pans so well-seasoned they were rough and easily cleaned, and was always in a comfortable spot drinking a drink as we showed up. This is why hosts serve stews: It’s gorgeous and effortless to operate. Sauté the onions, add aromatics as well as sear the meat. Reduce the heat and add the stock. Slow cook the heart, let it rest while it cooks, then throw the vegetables into the home stretch.

My childhood taste buds would have been horrified by my adult self’s inclusion of dates in this recipe. But I assure you that they’ll melt away and are a subtle sweet contrast to the salty components. Use well-marbled stew meat and red wine with a strong body that you’d like to sip. Billy Boy might have raised an eyebrow over the final portion of creme fraiche; however, it brings the food into modern times.

Socks-On, Old-School Spring Stew

For a gluten-free version, try using chickpea flour instead of all-purpose flour.


  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • Two teaspoons of kosher salt
  • Freshly crushed black pepper
  • 1 pound stewed beef Cut into cubes of 1-inch size
  • 1/3 cup of extra-virgin olive oils
  • One yellow onion Finely chopped
  • Two bay leaves
  • Two tablespoons fresh thyme leaves and more to garnish
  • 1 cup red wine 1 cup red
  • Two tablespoons of red-wine vinegar
  • 1-quart beef stock
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • Two tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 Medjool dates that have been pitted and chopped and two tablespoons of brown sugar
  • Half a pound of butternut squash cut into cubes of 1 inch.
  • 1 1/2 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Creme fraiche for serving (optional)


  1. Mix flour, salt, and a couple of generous chunks of pepper in a mixing bowl. Mix in the beef and coat it with flour.
  2. The oil is heated in an enormous Dutch oven on medium-high heat. Sear the first half of the beef, turning it over, until brown across the entire surface, about 7 minutes. Transfer the browned beef into a bowl, and repeat with the remaining meat. Set aside.
  3. Add the onions, bay leaves, and thyme to the Dutch oven, as well as oil, should it be needed. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook slowly until the onions become soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
  4. Pour in vinegar and wine to remove the glaze from the pan. Utilize a wooden spoon to scrape away browned bits off the bottom. Let the soup simmer gently until it reduces to a minimum, about 5 minutes. Include the stock from beef, Worcestershire, water dates, and browned beef. Reduce the heat to a simmer, then cover and simmer until the meat is tender, approximately one and a half hours. Stir frequently, skimming off any fat that is needed.
  5. Add potatoes and squash, then cover the pot and allow to cook until the vegetables are soft, 30-40 mins further. Add a few more cups of beef or liquid if the pool seems dry. Check the seasoning and taste as needed. Serve with a spoonful of creme fraiche. Garnish with Thyme leaves.

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