Confidence

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“If you send up a weather vane or put your thumb up in the air every time you want to do something different, to find out what people are going to think about it, you’re going to limit yourself. That’s a very strange way to live.”

– Jessye Norman

Before

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Before they ever thwarted us…
Beat down tortured us…
Slave ship boarded us…
Rounded up and horded us…
Before they ever sent the natives round to go and capture ya…

Before they gave us crack and put them crooked laws on us…
Before they water hosed us and sent them dogs on us….
Before the self-hatred had us fighting one another…
Before the Willie Lynch Letter broke our family structure….

Beef Stew in Red Wine Sauce

It really don’t make no sense how good this looks. Beef stew anyone? We’ll need:

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• 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 2 pounds trimmed beef flatiron steak or chuck, cut into 8 pieces
• Salt
• Freshly ground black pepper
• 1 cup finely chopped onion
• 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
• 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
• One 750-milliliter bottle dry red wine
• 2 bay leaves
• 1 thyme sprig
• One 5-ounce piece of pancetta
• 15 pearl or small cipollini onions, peeled
• 15 cremini mushrooms
• 15 baby carrots, peeled
• Sugar
• Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, melt the butter in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Arrange the meat in the casserole in a single layer and season with salt and pepper. Cook over moderately high heat, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, 8 minutes. Add the chopped onion and garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened, 5 minutes. Add the flour and stir to coat the meat with it. Add the wine, bay leaves and thyme, season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve any brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pot.

2. Cover the casserole and transfer it to the oven. Cook the stew for 1 1/2 hours, until the meat is very tender and the sauce is flavorful.

3. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, cover the pancetta with 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Drain the pancetta and slice it 1/2 inch thick, then cut the slices into 1-inch-wide lardons.\

4. In a large skillet, combine the pancetta, pearl onions, mushrooms and carrots. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1/4 cup of water and a large pinch each of sugar, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer until almost all of the water has evaporated, 15 minutes. Uncover and cook over high heat, tossing, until the vegetables are tender and nicely browned, about 4 minutes.

To serve, stir some of the vegetables and lardons into the stew and scatter the rest on top as a garnish. Top with a little chopped parsley and serve.

– Contributed by Jacques Pépin