We're cooking Gardiane La Camargue, French beef stew in the style of the cowboys Francais in the Camargue, south of Arles. The dish is from Patricia Wells' Bistro Cooking. Yesterday we cut the meat into 3- or 4-ounce pieces and prepped the carrots, onions and garlic before mixing it all together for an overnight marinade. Then, we drained the beef, reserving the marinade, and heated up oil in a pan. Then, I started browning the beef.
It takes me a long time to brown all the beef, even in my huge cast-iron pan. I need three batches and each one takes me 10 or 12 minutes to get browned on all sides. My final batch gets pretty brown because my son begs me to play ball with him in his room. No matter, it will all even out in the end.
I start to sprinkle in my herbs; thyme and bay leaves; and can't find the thyme, so just throw in a handful of Italian seasoning that includes basil, thyme and marjoram, hoping that the basil flavor will just cook away (thyme and rosemary are the rare spicese that actually hold up to long cooking times, I've learned). I add the bay and then get ready to toss in the olives.
Uh-oh. I've somehow misread the recipe. Instead of buying oil-cured olives, I bought Nicoise olives, decidedly different (but, umm, still French? does that count?). I decide to put in about a half-cup and pick up some oil-cured olives while my stew is simmering.