But it would be a mistake to say it’s just a beef stew.
It’s the beef stew upon which all beef stews are judged.
Yes, it is actually that good.
It appears very complicated but it’s not really and since I have no clue as to what a lardon of bacon is, I just changed that little bit because I thought it seemed rather pretentious to simmer bacon. Call me American.
Anyway, I finally made this after long wanting to, and I am so very glad I did. We simply loved it. The richness is beyond compare.
Don’t skip on the pearl onions. They are special to this dish. Adapted from the famous recipe of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking and further adapted from Food.com‘s Chef Kate.
- 6 oz of bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 3 lbs lean stewing meat, cut into bite-size pieces
- 1 carrot, peeled and sliced into rounds
- 1 onion, sliced into half slices
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1 btl of a full-bodied red wine, Merlot, Burgundy, Chianti, etc)
- 2-3 c beef stock (I used a good quality boxed unsalted but you are free to make your own if you are THAT anal)
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 -4 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 sprig of thyme or 1/2 tsp dried
- 1 bay leaf
For the braised pearl onions
- 18-24 pearl onions, peeled (place in boiling water and blanch. The cut off the growing end and slit down the side. The peels will slide off easily. Otherwise you are in for a long day in the kitchen peeling little tiny onions)
- 1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 c beef stock
- salt and pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 sprig of thyme
- 2 sprigs of parsley
For the Mushrooms
- 1 lb of mushrooms, quartered
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Saute the bacon until done, but before it turns crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon, and pour off all but a couple of tbsp of the fat.
- Dry off the pieces of meat. This is quite important as it allows for a better sear and ultimately a deeper flavor. Take the time and pat them dry. Sear them on all sides a few at a time until well browned. Remove to the baconolive.
- Adding additional olive oil if needed, add the carrot and the sliced onion, sauteing until softened. Drain off any remaining oil, and return the bacon and meat to the pot. (You will want to be using an oven proof large casserole)
- Shake the flour over the meat along with salt and pepper.
- Place in a preheated 450° oven for 4 minutes, uncovered.
- Stir contents and bake in oven for 4 more minutes.
- Remove to the stove top. Meanwhile lower oven to 325°.
- Add the wine and enough of the stock to barely cover the meat.
- Add the tomato paste, garlic and herbs. Bring to a simmer on the stove.
- Cover with foil and then the lid, and put in the oven. Check after 30 minutes. You want it barely simmering.
- Cover again and cook for 4 hours. I recommend you check at 3 and add liquid if it starts to be dry. You don’t want all the liquid to steam out, which is why a good seal on the cover helps.
- When the meat breaks apart easily with a fork, it’s done.
- Sometime during the 3-4 hours, prepare the onions and mushrooms.
- Melt the butter and oil in a large skillet and saute the onions, shaking from time to time until they are nicely browned. (I omitted the use of the stock) Add the herbs and salt and pepper and continue cooking until tender. I think 30 minutes is plenty. I cook them slow after they are browned.
- You can use the same pan. Remove the onions to a dish and add the butter and oil, heating until foaming and then throw in the mushrooms, tossing for about 5 minutes. Add the onions back, cover and leave until ready to finish the dish.
- I left all the carrots and sliced onions in the meat mix. You can strain off the sauce and let it fat rise and skim it off, but I didn’t have much so I didn’t do that. The sauce should be fairly thick, enough to coat the back of a spoon. Mine was perfect as it was. Add the onions and mushrooms to the pot and stir gently to coat everything.
- Reheat gently if you need to for a few minutes.
- Serve over noodles or potatoes.
Note: This is worthy of a dinner party. Trust me.