A wonderful dish, raising simple “old world ” peasants stew- to a complex, full body depth; capable of transcending you to your comfortable warm happy place! A bit time consuming– but worth every moment and hopefully, it won’t take you as long to cook it, as long as it took me to write it!
Just so happens I met Julia in my younger culinary days and have her book, “The Way To Cook” autographed by Julia Child’s herself! A day I will never forget!
Begin with the Beef:
1/2 Tablespoon good quality olive oil
8 -10 ounces of good quality slab bacon, sliced into 1/2-inch strips
3 pounds beef for stew -or cut your meat into about 2-inch chunks. Acceptable cuts -rump, chuck, sirloin tip, top round, or bottom round.
Kosher Salt and fresh ground pepper
3 large carrots, peeled and sliced in 1 inch chunks
1 yellow onion, diced
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 -4 cups red wine , preferably a Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone, Bordeaux-St, Emilion, Burgundy
1 cup rich, fine quality beef stock
1-2 Tablespoons tomato paste
1-2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1-2 dried bay leaves, left whole
2-3 cloves garlic, smashed
(The key is to cook the mushrooms and onions separate, then combine)
1-Preheat oven to 450’F degrees. In a large heavy bottomed 8 quart stock pot, or enamel Dutch oven- heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Cook bacon for 5-8 minutes until browned, and fat has rendered to the bottom of the cooking vessel. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon onto a paper towel. Set aside.
2-Pat the beef dry with a paper towel, and season with salt and pepper toss in flour. Shake.
3-Heat the olive oil with the rendered bacon fat- to high heat. When shimmering, add the seasoned, floured beef, in batches – do not crown the pan. Brown the beef well on all sides. Remove and set aside.
3-Add the chopped carrots and the diced onions to the remaining fat and four remnants. Sauté until lightly brown and caramelized. Careful not to burn. This also helps cook the raw flour and bring out it’s inherent nutty flavor. (The flour acts as a thickening agent to the final outcome)
5-Deglaze the pan with the red wine making sure to scrape all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the stock,tomato paste,herbs and the garlic. Stir to combine.
6-Return the beef and bacon to this vessel. Cover. Reduce oven heat to 325’F and place vessel in the oven and cook about 3 to 4 hours. Now prepare the onions and the mushrooms. Add both mushrooms and onions to the pot and keep covered and continue cooking until beef is fork tender and liquid reduced to a stew like consistency. Serve with any style potatoes or enjoy on its own!
The Pearl Onions
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 Tablespoons good quality olive oil
2 dozen small white pearl onions, boiled with skins on for 5 minutes , roots cut, and squeezed out of peels ( or use thawed frozen- but if you are spending this much money and time use fresh)
1 cup fine quality beef stock
3-4 fresh flat leaf parsley sprigs
2 fresh bay leaves
3-4 fresh thyme sprigs
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1-Heat the butter and oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the par-boiled, peeled pearl onions. Sauté for about 10 -12 minutes, until the onions are chocolate brown and caramelized.
2-Add the beef stock.
3-Tie the herbs together with butcher’s twine, or wrap inside kitchen cheesecloth. Add those in, too. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 5 minutes to marry flavors. Add to main pot in the oven. Stir in well including the herb bundle.
1 Tablespoons good quality olive oil
2 Tablespoons fresh unsalted butter
1/2-1 pound white mushrooms, wiped clean with a damp paper towel
2 cloves garlic minced fine
Salt and pepper to taste
Quarter the mushrooms ( personally, I choose smaller mushrooms and leave them whole)
Heat the oil and butter in a skillet over high heat. When the foam from the butter begins to subside, add in the mushrooms.
Add garlic. Shake the mushroom around for about 5 minutes until toasty brown. Remove from heat and also add to the main pot in the oven.