This ‘beef stew’ recipe has become a new favorite. It is based on Julia Child’s recipe from The French Chef Cookbook, with nuances that fit our taste and style. The stew is best begun the day before so that the flavors develop overnight. The key, as with any stew meat, is low and slow; this is another patience project.
Remember to use wine that is of the quality you would drink. If you don’t like the taste when drinking it, you won’t like it in the stew. Make sure to buy and extra bottle since this stew generally takes 2 thirsty days to prepare.
Julia’s original recipe uses multiple pans for the process. Ken uses the same Crueset heavy pot for all steps of the process, building the flavors one within the others.
6 ounces bacon
3 lbs. lean stewing beef cut into 2- to 3-inch chunks
3 cups full-bodied, young red wine
4 cups beef stock (approx. 1 32 ounce carton beef stock)
1 Tb tomato paste
2 to 3 cloves mashed garlic
1 lb. mushrooms, quartered
½ tsp thyme (several fresh sprigs)
1 bay leaf
1 T butter, softened + 3 T butter, melted
3 T flour
salt and pepper as necessary
Place bacon in heavy pot (4 qt. Dutch oven, Creuset) and cook over moderate heat until bacon is crispy and crumbles easily.
Remove crispy bacon from the pot. Crumble, and set aside.
Place the beef in the heavy pot a few pieces at a time - sear/brown the beef in rendered bacon fat
Remove browned beef and set aside.
Deglaze the pot with red wine. Add remainder of 3 cups of red wine, bring to a simmer.
Return beef and bacon to the pot.
Add 4 cups beef stock.
Add thyme, bay leaf and tomato paste. (don’t add salt/pepper at this point)
Stir to combine and set on medium heat until it almost comes to a boil.
Drop temperature to a gentle simmer and cook, covered, for at least 2 ½ hours.
As the stew begins its cooking time, saute’ quartered mushrooms in 1 T butter until they are soft. Add salt, pepper, and a splash of red wine (Don’t forget to pour a glass for yourself).
Tip the mushrooms into the stew pot. Continue to cook at a gentle simmer for the remainder of the 2 ½ hours.
Cool stew and put in the fridge (if you will be eating the stew the next day, otherwise continue)
Next day: Bring stew to significant simmer over moderate heat.
Add pearl onions.
Combine 3 T melted butter and 3 T flour, mix thoroughly (as if you were making a roux.)
Ladle about ½ c of the warmed stew liquid into the butter-flour mixture, mix again to make a slurry.
Pour slurry into the pot.
Raise heat and stir until ‘gravy’ begins to form.
Serve with crusty bread and more red wine.