Saturday, December 21, 2013
I made this classic recipe for the first time last year for my wonderful friends Whitney and Katherine after we read Julia Child's memoir My Life in France in our book club. We went all out with our French themed night, though Katherine broke the rules and brought her delicious sour cream pound cake which was divine! Instead of making the 4 page Julia version, I followed Ina's recipe which was simple and perfect. The recipe is very easy, so don't be overwhelmed by the length.
The weather is just right for a hearty beef stew, and so I made this for us with creamy mashed potatoes. Of course, it reminded me of our French night and I missed my girls who have graduated from PA school and moved away and now have wonderful jobs as physician assistants! I just had to make Katherine's pound cake for dessert since I was taking a cruise down memory lane.
from Ina Garten
1 Tbsp good olive oil
8 ounces dry cured center cut applewood smoked bacon, diced
2 1/2 pounds chuck beef cut into 1-inch cubes
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound carrots, sliced diagonally into 1-inch cubes
2 yellow onions, sliced
2 teaspoons chopped garlic (2 cloves)
1/2 cup Cognac
1 (750mL) bottle good dry red wine, such as Cote du Rhone or Pinot Noir
1 can (2 cups) beef broth
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves (1/2 tsp dried)
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 pound frozen pearl onions
1 pound fresh mushrooms, stems discarded, caps thickly sliced
Serve with crunchy baguette or over mashed potatoes and top with chopped fresh parsley
Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is lightly browned. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a large plate.
Dry the beef cubes with paper towels and then sprinkle them with salt and pepper. In batches in single layers, sear the beef in the hot oil for 3-5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove the seared cubes to the plate with the bacon and continue searing until all the beef is browned. Set aside.
Toss the carrots and onions, 1 tablespoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of pepper in the fat in the pan and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the Cognac (optional), stand back, and ignite with a match to burn off the alcohol. Put the meat and bacon back into the pot with the juices. Add the bottle of wine plus enough beef broth to almost cover the meat. Add the tomato paste and thyme. Bring to a simmer, cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and place it in the oven for 1 and 1/4 hours or until all of the meat and vegetables are very tender when pierced with a fork.
Combine 2 tablespoons of butter and the flour with a fork and stir into the stew. Add the frozen onions. Saute the mushrooms in 2 tablespoons of butter for 10 minutes until lightly browned and then add to the stew. Bring to a boil on top of the stove, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Season to taste. Serve over mashed potatoes or with crunchy french bread, and top with freshly chopped parsley.