SD Pros Marketing Director reflects on his family’s new stay at home life and shares a good, old-school, classic Italian meal.

“One of the things we are proudest of at SD Pros is the fact that our work family is such a wonderfully beautiful melting pot of amazing people from all walks of life. As we’ve all been hunkered down in our homes working remotely, we’ve enjoyed sharing more together such as stories of how each family is coping with this new reality. One topic, in particular, seems to stand out and that is food. During normal, faster times, perhaps such stories would be of little value. That said, we hope you enjoy these personal stories from our work families as we are simply trying to communicate that although we are all quarantined around the world, we’re all still here, together and that holds such a special new meaning these days.”
– Jacob Timmons, President

A Note From John LaPerch

In that long-ago era called pre-coronavirus, life for most of us was a constant rush. A quick shower, a much too long drive to the office, guzzle down a $9 cup of coffee. A full day of work with maybe a not so healthy lunch…rush home…order a pizza…watch The Voice.
Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Then this happened and it was strange and discomforting and turned our worlds upside down.

But we humans are nothing if not adaptable and adapt, we did.

For me, this meant all my kids coming back home from college to live with us for the foreseeable future. My wife Kathy and I, recent empty-nesters, are living in….. “a kids-are-gone, no need for a big house, two-bedroom loft” in Knoxville, TN. The references to the Great Depression are apt as we are living like our forefathers in a tenement-like setup.

But guess what…in the oddest of ways, I kind of love it.

You’ve undoubtedly heard the old proverb “necessity is the mother of invention.” It means, roughly, that the primary driving force for most new inventions is a need. Well, welcome to life in the COVID-19 era.

Many empty, grocery shelves with just a handful of meats to choose from means having to improvise and in my mind nobody improvises like a good Italian cook (think grandmother with a wooden spoon in hand). So when the only choice for me was a package of beef stew meat, I knew exactly what I was going to do with it. Luckily for me, there were a few cans of San Marzano tomatoes to be had in the store, as many of my fellow Tennesseans have not yet discovered the magic of these gems from Italy. I felt like a thief.

When I arrived home, I was thrilled to set about making this magic concoction. Sizzling, browned beef in a heavenly mixture of olive oil and butter. Remove the beef and brown the onions and garlic in the same magical mixture. A heavy heavy pour of a good Cabernet and a swig for the chef. Add the tomatoes and introduce the beef back in…let it sit at a slow simmer for a few incredibly aromatic hours…and the beef starts to melt into tiny, tender bites. Essentially turning the cheapest of cuts of meat into prime cuts. Boil up some thick Bucatini noodles, grill up some stale bread with olive oil and garlic and voila.

The meal itself…incredible. More incredible? How my family has adapted to this new reality. We all have assumed new roles that play to our strengths. TV off during dinner, we talk like we use to before the scourge of the heads down, cell phone world we live in became the norm. My wife, self admittedly, not a lover of cooking, does her part by setting the table. My son, a cleaning nut if there ever was one, happily clears the table and washes the dishes. My daughter is the food inspector, constantly asking me what am I making and will it pass her limited palate?

We listen to music, we laugh, we play games…it’s not just the food that is comforting…it’s the new routine that helps us deal with the new reality.

And for that I am grateful.
John LaPerch – Marketing Director, S.D. Professionals, LLC

SD Pros Marketing Director John LaPerch's Beef Bistecca and San Marzano Tomatoes

SD Pros Marketing Director, John LaPerch’s Beef Bistecca and San Marzano Tomatoes

John’s Bistecca(beef) and San Marzano Tomatoes

  • 1 lb of stew beef
  • Flour (as needed)
  • 2 cans San Marzano Tomatoes
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 cup beef stock (as needed)
  • Oil
  • Unsalted Butter

Instructions

  • Cover the bottom of a large dutch oven with olive oil and a few pats of butter. Heat on medium-high
  • Dredge the beef in the unseasoned flour
  • When the butter is melted and the oil is shimmering brown the beef in small batches to avoid crowding and steaming the meat instead of browning.
  • Set aside on paper towels to drain
  • Dice the onion and drop into the pot. (do not clean pot after browning beef, that stuff left behind is the good stuff). Add oil as needed to keep the onions from sticking or burning. Cook until onions are clear.
  • Add the garlic and cook for a quick minute.
  • Pour in the wine and cook until the alcohol dissipates.
  • Add both cans of tomatoes and crush them up with the back of a wooden spoon.
  • Add a ladle of the beef stock and bring to a boil
  • Once boiling, set to simmer and let cook for hours (2 at least, but longer makes the flavor even more defined and the beef that much more tender)
  • Boil any long noodles like bucatini or linguine and cook until al dente
  • Serve a few ladles of sauce over the noodles and enjoy.
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