Note: Like all stews, this one takes an afternoon to cook, but it serves an army and freezes wonderfully. Do yourself a favor – buy the best beef you can afford. It will cut your cooking time and add terrific depth of flavor. And no cheap wine for the sauce – if you wouldn’t drink it, don’t put it in this delicious dish.
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 ounces of thick-cut bacon, cut into small cubes (Julia Child uses bacon rind, but that takes the extra step of boiling in water for 10 minutes)
3 pounds stew beef cut into 2-inch cubes
1 carrot, sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons flour
3 cups of full-bodied red wine (Child likes young French varieties or Chianti)
2-3 cups beef stock
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, mashed
½ teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf, crumbled
18-24 pearl onions, sauteed in 3 tablespoons butter and oil then baked in a 350 F oven with an herb bouquet of parsley, bay and thyme until golden and cooked through (I skip this step and just add the onions in with the carrots. Tastier, I think, but not as beautiful.) Reserve.
1 pound quartered fresh mushrooms, sauteed in butter (this you must do) and reserved.
Preheat the oven to 450 F.
Saute the bacon in the oil in a Dutch oven over moderate heat for 2-3 minutes until lightly browned. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon and reserve.
Dry the beef cubes with paper towels, heat the fat until almost smoking and saute the beef until brown on all sides (don’t crowd the pan or it will take forever to brown the beef). Add to the reserved bacon.
Brown the carrots and onion in the same oil, then pour off the fat.
Return the beef and bacon to the pan and toss with salt and pepper. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat.
Set the Dutch oven in the middle rack of the oven for four minutes. Toss the meat and return to the oven for another four minutes. Remove the pan and turn the oven down to 325 F.
Stir in the wine and enough stock to barely cover. Add the tomato paste, garlic and herbs. Bring to a simmer on the stove. Cover the pot and set in the lower third of the oven. Regulate the heat so the liquid simmers slowly for 3-4 hours. (My oven needed at least 375 F for the meat to cook in the time allotted, so check to see how the cooking is going about half an hour in.) The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.
When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the pot over a strainer set over a saucepan. Return the stew to the pot and add the onions and mushrooms.
Skim the fat off the sauce and simmer for several minutes until it reaches the desired consistency, thick enough to lightly coat a spoon. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables, simmer for a few minutes more and serve with boiled potatoes.
Recipe from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking.