A Sonoran Christmas of Years Gone By
Back when the kids were little, we had a family tradition. Every year, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, we would have all the family, in-laws, cousins, friends, and their children over to our house for the annual tree decorating party.
I started the day by making a big batch of my Poblano Irish Stew. I would let it simmer all day filling the house with a wonderful, comforting aroma. Around three in the afternoon everybody would show up, so we would go down to the local tree lot and pick out a tree. We would then go back to the house and everybody would have a bowl of Irish stew while setting up the tree. Sometime around sunset we would pile all the kids in the back of the truck (it was a different time) and drive up to “The Town Dump” (A local store that has a very eclectic collection of merchandise, big and small). Mattie, the owner, always had lots of unusual ornaments. I would bring about twenty dollars in one-dollar bills. We would give all the kids a buck or two and let them pick out a few ornaments. I can still remember how excited the little ones would get running up to their moms showing off the tiny treasures they had found. Then we would go back to the house and unpack the Christmas box. Kathy would put on a big pot of coffee. The adults would sip Irish coffee while the festivities got under way.
I was always the traffic director. While the older children untangled and tested the lights, I would let the little kids, a few at a time, put their treasure on the tree. The big kids would put the lights on. Then we would un-pack the old ornaments and the little kids would take turns placing them on the tree. The smallest decorating the bottom and according to height working their way up. The adults finishing the top and I would top it off with the Christmas angle. We would visit, eat, drink and sing Christmas carols. After the tree was decorated and our spirits and voices were both warmed up I would choose a small phrase from a familiar Christmas carol and we all would sing it into my answering machine (as I said, a different time!). Followed by, Merry Christmas, from all of us at Mad Coyote! Sometime before the night was over, I would wonder off by myself, with a shot of Irish whiskey, hold it up and say Merry Christmas Rosie to my dear departed Irish Grandmother.
Poblano Irish Stew
The combination of roasted poblano chiles and fresh thyme really ties this amazing dish together.
3 Lbs. stew meat, cut into 3/4" cubes
1 Lb. lamb, cut into ¾ inch cubes
3 cloves Garlic
1 White onion cut into 1/2" cubes
Oil for cooking
8 cups Beef broth
1 cup red wine
2-1/2 Lbs. New potatoes, cut into 1/2" cubes and rinsed
3-4 medium carrots cut into ½ inch rounds
4 stalks of celery, cut into ¼ inch peices
2 Poblano chiles, grill-roasted, seeded, peeled, and chopped
3 Tbl. Flour
3 Tbl. Cold water
2 Tbl Butter
1 Tbl. Fresh thyme leaves, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Brown the meat in a heavy pot or Dutch oven. Add the onions and garlic, sauté until soft. Deglaze the pot with the beef broth and wine. Add the potatoes, Carrots, celery and roasted chiles. Simmer over low heat, for three hours or more, until beef is tender.
In a medium mixing bowl, mix together the flour and water until it forms a smooth paste. Add a few cups of the hot broth from the stew and whisk together until smooth. Add back into the stew and stir well. Raise heat to a low boil and stir well. Immeadiatly return heat to low and stir in butter and thyme. Season to taste. Serve in big soup bowls with fresh bread.
Just the thing for a cold winter night
1 pot Fresh brewed coffee (not flavored)
Old Bushmill's Irish Whiskey
Fresh whipped cream
Pour 1OZ of whiskey into a large coffee mug. Add coffee, and a little cream, if you like. A teaspoon of sugar is added to take the edge off the whiskey. Top with whipped cream.