Help! I Ruined Dinner!

It was 4:30P.M. when the timer on my microwave sounded signaling the end of the cook time for one of my favorite fall meals, beef stew. I woke up early to sear the beef, chop the veggies, and combine them in the crockpot to simmer slowly throughout the day. It smelled delicious as it cooked and I was looking forward to wowing my husband with my best stew yet. I opened the cover. The reds, oranges, browns, and yellows were the picture of Autumn in a bubbling pot. I was sure it would be flawless. I was horribly disappointed. The flavor was boring, and it was far too salty. Help! I ruined dinner!

At first blush, this probably doesn’t sound like a happy story, especially to my fellow Type A women. Yet it is. I found joy in my beef stew today. Mixed in with the corn, potatoes, and meat was a kernel of delight shucked from a bland stew and too much salt.

What to do if you ruin dinner

There was a time in the not too distant past when the idea of a briny, flavorless, meal would have thrown shivers up my spine and sent me dashing for the nearest trash can to empty the pot and hide my disastrous performance.

I would have tossed it and started over without a second thought. Gone would be an hour of preparation, ten hours simmering in the crockpot, $15.00 worth of beef and another $10 worth of veggies. Why? Because it wasn’t perfect.

But I didn’t do that.

Consider your options

I had options. In fact, I had at least three options that I could think of:

  • Throw it out and start over
  • Fix it
  • Order pizza

I chose to fix it, or at least go down fighting.

I opened the fridge to see what I could add to the stew to kick up the flavor and cut the salt. None of my go to cooking solutions would do the trick. I couldn’t add salt to enhance the flavor as it was already too salty. Adding wine would thin it out too much.

Lemon juice?

Balsamic vinegar?

They wouldn’t work either.

Then I saw it, sitting on the second shelf just waiting for a purpose. A half-used block of Boursin cheese, the shallot and chive kind, not the garlic kind.

Help! I ruined dinner. A picture of a box of Boursin Cheese, Shallot and Chive and a block of that cheese

The scent of onions and cream touched my nose as I peeled back the wrapper. I pinched off a small taste. Perfect! I was just about to toss it into the pot when the voice in my head – who I’ve recently named “Mean Mommy”, but that’s a story for another post – screamed “Stop! Do some research, verify this is a good idea.”

The battle with Mean Mommy

Was it a good idea? Logic says, sure, go for it. It’s creamy, oniony, and rich. Isn’t that exactly what the stew needs? What kind of catastrophe would befall me if I screw up this stew that no one but me even knows I’m cooking? And even if it does “ruin” the stew, isn’t it already ruined? Do I really have anything more to lose?

But I wasn’t willing to take the risk. So I Googled it.

I Googled it every way I could think of.

“Boursin cheese in beef stew”, “how to add flavor to a beef stew”, “Can I add cheese to a beef stew?” Each attempt brought the same results.


I didn’t find a single mention of Boursin cheese being added to a beef stew. How often do you Google something and not find it? It must be a bad idea.

Mean Mommy opened her mouth to scream again but I pushed her aside.

Instead, I chose a path that I don’t often select. I decided to “wing it”.  I objectively considered each of my options.

Throw it outDespite being my gut instinct, this wasn’t an actual option since dinner was in an hour. I pondered if dumping it and having no plan for dinner was better than the shame of a bad meal. The stew won – even if by a very narrow margin.
Fix itIt might work or it might not. It might be even more ruined.
Order pizzaHubby would love this solution but we had pizza twice last week and I can’t eat anymore pizza right now.

Go for it!

I tossed the block of cheese into the stew.

It plopped atop a quartered potato and sat there, taunting me. I stirred. It began to melt, fingers of creamy goodness reached across the pot.

Energized, I went back to the freezer and pulled out some veggies from my summer garden and tossed them in too. Then stirred some more and returned it to the heat.

As the temperature in the pan rose the room filled with the aroma of success. But I contained my excitement until I could confirm by tasting the finished product.

When I did, I smiled. Joy in a beef stew.

To create this stew, I use a basic beef stew recipe. When it is finished cooking, I add a cup each of cooked, yet still quite firm, frozen corn and frozen beans plus the new addition of four ounces of Boursin Cheese with shallots and chives.

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