Week 7! A little late getting up here, but here we go.
I have been wanting to cook something from the Julia Child cookbook ever since Mom and I both bought it for Dad for Christmas a few years ago. Guess who got the extra copy? :)
Whenever I sit down to make a beef stew, I never have the Burgundy I am supposed to use for the fancy recipe, so I always just make up what goes in. This time, I was ready: saw a Burgundy at TJs a few weeks ago and snatched it up in preparation. Because I had the right wine for once, I decided to go all out and follow the real recipe (mostly.) I even used the pearl onions!
modified from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking
Serves 6, or created a ton of leftovers if you make it for 2.
for step one: brown the beef and veggies
1tbs olive oil or cooking oil
6 oz bacon, cut crosswise into strips
3lbs lean stewing beef cut into 2" cubes
1 sliced carrot
1 sliced onion
1/4 tsp pepper
for step two: deglaze the pan and start the stew simmering
3 cups full-bodied young wine, such as Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone, Bordeaux, or Burgundy.
2-3 cups beef stock
1tbs tomato paste
2 cloves mashed garlic
1/2 tsp thyme (I used 4 or 5 springs fresh)
a bay leaf
for step three: garnish and serve
2 tbs butter
1 tbs oil
1/2 cup beef stock
18 to 24 pearl onions
2 tbs butter
fresh chopped flat leaf parsley
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
*Ok, so at this point in the "real" recipe, you would take a chunk of bacon, remove the rind, and simmer the rind and pieces of cut up bacon in water for 10 minutes before frying everything. I just did what I always do with bacon - I cut chunks off the frozen package into little strips, and fried it up to render the fat. It worked fine.*
Cook the bacon in an stove-top safe ovenproof casserole over medium low heat, to render the fat. When it starts to brown slightly, use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon from the pan. Turn up the heat to medium high and, working in small batches, brown the beef cubes in the bacon fat. Remove the beef from the pan and cook the onions and carrot in remaining bacon fat. At this point, if there is any bacon fat remaining, pour it out (for me, there was not, and I actually had to add a touch of olive oil to cook the veggies.)
Return the beef and bacon to the pan with the veggies, and toss with the salt and pepper. Sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef. Put the dish in the oven, uncovered, for 4 minutes. After 4 minutes, again stir the meat and veggies, and return to the oven for an additional 4 minutes.
Turn the oven down to 325 degrees.
Add all the ingredients in step 2, starting with one of the liquids and scraping to deglaze the crispy delicious bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring the pan to a simmer on the stove before covering the dish and putting it in the lower 2/3 of your preheated oven. Let it cook for 2.5 to 3 hours (or longer if needed for the meat to become nice and fall-apart-on-your-fork tender.
While this is cooking, after you've relaxed from all the work listed above, you can move on to
To prepare the onions:
Peel the pearl onions. This might take years. I am sorry, but they taste good and look pretty, so you just have to suck it up and do it.
Heat the oil and butter in a saucepan with a lid, over medium heat. Add the onions and saute for about 10 minutes, gently rolling the onions in the skillet so they don't fall apart and brown all over. Add the beef stock and cover, simmering, for 40-50 minutes until tender. Set aside.
To prepare the mushrooms:
Quarter the mushrooms, and saute in butter over medium high heat. Set aside.
I like to serve been stew with a starch like roasted potatoes, or over a bed of delicious polenta. I leave this up to you based on your preference, but you could certainly serve this dish with no accompaniment at all, or just a nice slice of good bread.
*Julia's recipe here has some nonsense about straining out the veggies etc so you can thicken the sauce. I do not believe in discarding the cooking veggies, personally, but if you feel strongly about following Julia's instructions, you would strain out the veggies here, and reduce the sauce on its own.*
Remove the casserole from the oven, and put back on the stovetop to reduce the sauce. On medium high heat with the lid off, simmer the stew until the sauce is rich and opaque. Then add the pearl onions and mushrooms, stirring gently to coat, and serve with a garnish of flat leaf parsley.