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James Peterson's French-Style Vegetable Stew


French-Style Vegetable Stew [Photograph: James Peterson]

Much of James Peterson's Vegetables consists of recipes written for single vegetables; it makes for neater lessons, but such recipes can lead to monotony.

In the spirit of mixing things up, it only seems appropriate to tackle his French-Style Vegetable Stew. Peterson's stew takes advantage of more than a few cooking techniques (blanching, boiling, steaming, glazing, and simmering); a good challenge for anyone wanting to test their skill.

Peterson acknowledges that his recipe is complex and finicky ("purposely complicated") as he states, but he does so with good reason. Each vegetable is precisely cut, cooked, and assembled to be as dramatic as possible. The method(s) works. The final stew is a celebration of vegetation.

Why I picked This Recipe: After a week of working with single vegetables, I was ready to branch out and try a complex stew with many components.

What Worked: Each and every component of the stew was cooked to tender perfection, and the final dish was beautiful.

What Didn't: A minor quibble here. The fennel preparation lead to large, unwieldy pieces (especially in comparison to the petite asparagus and beans). I'd slice it thinner next time.

Suggested Tweaks: There is a lot of prep work involved; to make things run more quickly, you can prep many of the vegetables while you're cooking off the first few. Also, Peterson suggests preparing the stew with whatever is on hand. Just keep in mind that the vegetables should be cooked until tender and the world of stews is your oyster!

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Vegetables Revised to give away.

About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer out of Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American and blogs at cookingwolves.wordpress.com.

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