If you need a little extra warmth this winter, stew is your number one choice.
There are as many versions of Eintopf, a hearty German stew, as there are people who love it. A traditional stew may contain bratwurst and sauerkraut, but how it’s cooked (eintopf means “a pot”) is more important than what goes into the pot. As long as you have meat and veggies, you have the base for a stew.
I got to know stew for the first time as a child. My parents brought us back to Lagos after high school in Berlin and they shared stew with me and my siblings. They didn’t have a unique approach to it, and neither did I. It’s a dish I’m constantly honing and most likely always will be.
That’s because Eintopf is as generous as it is brilliant when it comes to how well substitutions come about. Any root vegetable you have on hand will work, and any combination of two or three works best: carrots, parsnips, beets, Jerusalem artichoke, and potatoes are just a few options. Spicy leafy greens, hearty leafy greens, or kale are great for completing the stew and adding some crunch.
This recipe highlights bone-in short ribs, which, like other tough but flavorful cuts of meat, will take time to break down, but will eventually reach a point where the bones, juices, and fat are all making an imperceptible contribution to the broth Afford. The coconut milk provides a finish that suits me—I avoid dairy—but you can add cream or other ingredients that thicken quickly without watering down the dish.
Once it’s out of the oven, you can then separate what you’re storing for days to come. To portions, which I serve immediately, I add kale, followed by a dash of reserved fennel leaves. There’s some brightness to the broth at this point, but if after tasting a slice of lime or a quick zest of another citrus zest suits you, that would be nice too.
I’m a die-hard fan of stews. From them I have learned new techniques and cuisines and ingredients that are unknown to me. But my favorite one-pot meals are the ones that get better the days after you cook them. On the second or third day, all the flavors you developed had time to get to know each other.
It’s the way my parents cooked when they were students: cooking something in a single pot to eat for a week. For her, and now for me, there is comfort in returning to a good meal, especially one that holds as much warmth and memory as this cozy stew.
And to drink …
I consider this dish a hearty beef stew, although one ingredient, coconut milk, makes for a trickier pairing. Coconut milk often shows up in Asian seafood or poultry concoctions and curries, dishes I’d reflexively pair with a white, but in this rendition of stew I strongly want a generous blush. The coconut milk adds richness, but the dominant flavors are at their best complemented by red wines. My reflex is to pick a hearty Syrah, either from the Northern Rhône, Australia or the West Coast of the United States. A Grenache from the southern Rhône, Spain or the west coast would also be delicious. Other options? A Loire Valley Cabernet Franc, a Douro Red from Portugal and maybe an Aglianico from Campania. ERIC ASIMOV