Beef Stew in Red Wine – Super any Sunday
Made this at least a day ahead. Day of – Go skiing, make the rest of the Super Bowl buffet or read a book and know that your Boeuf Bourguignon is getting better in the refrigerator. Just warm and serve.
Carefully, we follow Julia Child’s recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 1. Except we start by frying a piece of bacon in the Le Creuset because we don’t have lardons (Bacon’s flavor adds depth, salt pork works, too, but if you don’t have it skip it. If the bacon is too salty, boil it for a few minutes and then pat dry before frying). Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Remove bacon. Heat the oil and 1 Tbs. olive oil to almost smoking. Brown 1.5 lbs of beef uncrowded on all sides. We used a package of stew meat from the freeze and it was cut a little smaller than we prefer. Julia suggests 2-inch cubes. This amount is perfect as a complete meal for two or serves four with other courses.
Put browned beef in a bowl with 1 Tbs of flour and a little salt and pepper. Brown 1/2 onion and a carrot in the Le Creuset, then return the meats to it, and cook uncovered in the middle of the oven for 4 minutes. Toss and return to oven for another 5 or so minutes. This browns the flour and forms a nice crust on the meat.
Remove. Turn the oven temperature down to 275. (I know this is low but low is slow is perfect for Denver dryness and altitude). Stir in 1.5 cups of a good red wine (a pizza wine will do, but better won’t hurt) and enough stock so the meat is barely covered. Add 1/2 Tbs of tomato paste, 1 clove garlic, thyme and 1 bay leaf. And the bacon. Bring to a simmer on top of the stove and set in the lower third of the oven. Check to make sure the liquid only simmers and let it go for 3 to 4 hours. The meat is done when it pierces easily with a fork.
When the meat is cooked, we use a slotted spoon to take out the big chucks of onion and carrot. They’ve already given up their flavor. We add mushrooms and small white onions to the casserole and let it cool, uncovered. Then cover and refrigerate. Just warm up slowly in the casserole before serving.
Roasted, boiled or mashed potatoes are great to help soak up the sauce, but bread, pasta or rice work, too. If you want a green vegetable, peas are great. Julia suggests you serve a young, full-bodied French wine with this dish, and she’s right, of course.