In the fall and winter there are a few comfort food dishes that will settle the craving of a warm rib-sticking meal. This is one.

My good friend, who very sadly is not with us anymore, Cleto J. Augusto from Long Branch, was a great cook, taking the time to gently meld the flavors of spices and sauces. We called him Bubba. Bubba was the best, very funny with a great personality and a passion for sports and politics.

As an actor, Bubba frequently spent his time between Jersey (New York) and L.A. You’ve seen Bubba on "Seinfeld," "Frazier" and was the GEICO fairy in pink tights (and we never let him forget that one!) He was in dozens of commercials and sitcoms.


Several summers back, while spending time back here on the East Coast, Bubba stayed with me at the Ranch to cut down on expenses. It was great. He would whip up great dishes and I thoroughly enjoyed his company. My summer with Bubba was filled with great eats, watching the ballgames every night, smoking cigars and having an adult beverage or two. Life was good when Bubba was back in Jersey.

He cooked up a storm here at the ranch but one of the dishes that stood out was his Beef Stroganoff. It was delicious. I asked him to send me the recipe and gladly he did.

I miss my summers with Bubba but I have great memories to enjoy. To his wife Leslie and their children Cleto and Sophia, thanks for sharing him with us.

What you'll need:

3 tbsp. vegetable oil, separated
1 1⁄2 lbs. beef stew meat, 1⁄2 inch pieces
1 small onion, diced
1⁄4 cup of Worcestershire Sauce
1 can of beef broth 1 tbsp. butter
1⁄4 cup corn starch (dissolved in water)
8oz. container sour cream
Salt & pepper to taste
White wine (amount is a guy's choice)

(Chopped mushrooms, celery, carrots and bacon may be added at your choosing. Bacon should be cooked before hand and crumbled after draining and added at the very end to maintain crispness.)

How to put it together:

In a large pan heat 1 1⁄2 tbsp. of vegetable oil and brown beef over high heat. Browned meat droppings on the bottom of the pan are very acceptable. Remove meat from pan and set aside. In the same pan add the other 1 1⁄2 tbsp of vegetable oil, and the butter, and sauté́ onion and any other vegetables that you want to use. Sauté́ vegetables to medium softness. Stir in Worcestershire and beef broth, then salt and pepper to taste.

Bring to boil, add meat and some white wine. Bring to a second boil. Then turn heat to low and simmer, covered, for 1 to 1 1⁄2 hours. Once the meat is tender, bring the stew back to a boil and slowly pour in cornstarch mixture, while stirring, to thicken.

Lastly, stir in approx. two tbsp. of sour cream (and the bacon, if you chose it) before serving over noodles or white rice. A special guy may skip the corn starch/water mixture simply by coating the meat with flour right before you brown it. The flour will do the work right before your very eyes as you continue the recipe.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 weekend host Big Joe Henry. Any opinions expressed are Big Joe’s own.

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