I was inspired by the movie, "Julie and Julia" to make this dish. These directions look really long, but all the steps really help and it turned out fantastic, though I had to use regular bacon strips. I used 2 buck Cabernet wine from Trader Joe's to save money.
FOR THE STEW
- 6 ounces bacon, solid chunk
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 lbs lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
- 1 carrot, peeled and sliced
- 1 onion, peeled and sliced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 3 cups red wine (a full bodied wine like Bordeaux or Burgundy or Chianti)
- 2-3 cups beef stock (Simple Beef stock is posted on the site, unsalted and defatted)
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 garlic cloves, mashed (you may choose to add more)
- 1 sprig thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dred thyme)
- 1 bay leaf, preferably fresh
FOR THE BRAISED ONIONS
FOR THE SAUTEED MUSHROOMS
1First prepare the bacon: cut off the rind and reserve.
2Cut the bacon into lardons about 1/4" think and 1 1/2" long.
3Simmer the rind and the lardons for ten minutes in 1 1/2 quarts of water.
4Drain and dry the lardons and rind and reserve.
5Pre-heat the oven to 450°F.
6Put the tablespoon of olive oil in a large (9" - 10" wide, 3" deep) fireproof casserole and warm over moderate heat.
7Saute the lardons for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly.
8Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon.
9Dry off the pieces of beef and saute them, a few at a time in the hot oil/bacon fat until nicely browned on all sides.
10Once browned, remove to the side plate with the bacon.
11In the same oil/fat, saute the onion and the carrot until softened.
12Pour off the fat and return the lardons and the beef to the casserole with the carrots and onion.
13Toss the contents of the casserole with the salt and pepper and sprinkle with the flour.
14Set the uncovered casserole in the oven for four minutes.
15Toss the contents of the casserole again and return to the hot oven for 4 more minutes.
16Now, lower the heat to 325°F and remove the casserole from the oven.
17Add the wine and enough stock so that the meat is barely covered.
18Add the tomato paste, garlic and herbs and the bacon rind.
19Bring to a simmer on the top of the stove.
20Cover and place in the oven, adjusting the heat so that the liquid simmers very slowly for three to four hours.
21The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.
22While the meat is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms and set them aside till needed.
23For the onion, if using frozen, make sure they are defrosted and drained.
24Heat the butter and oil in a large skillet and add the onions to the skillet.
25Saute over medium heat for about ten minutes, rolling the onions about so they brown as evenly as possible, without breaking apart.
26Pour in the stock, season to taste, add the herbs, and cover.
27Simmer over low heat for about 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but retain their shape and the liquid has mostly evaporated.
28Remove the herbs and set the onions aside.
29For the mushrooms, heat the butter and oil over high heat in a large skillet.
30As soon as the foam begins to subside add the mushrooms and toss and shake the pan for about five minutes.
31As soon as they have browned lightly, remove from heat.
32To Finish the Stew:.
33When the meat is tender, remover the casserole from the oven and empty its contents into a sieve set over a saucepan.
34Wash out the casserole and return the beef and bacon to it (discarding the bits of carrot and onion and herbs which remain in the sieve).
35Distribute the mushrooms and onions over the meat.
36Skim the fat off the sauce and simmer it for a minute or two, skimming off any additional fat which rises to the surface.
37You should be left with about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly.
38If the sauce is too thick, add a few tablespoons of stock.
39If the sauce is too thin, boil it down to reduce to the right consistency.
40Taste for seasoning.
41Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables.
42If you are serving immediately, place the covered casserole over medium low heat and simmer 2 to 3 minutes.
43Serve in the casserole or on a warm platter surrounded by noodles, potatoes or rice and garnished with fresh parsley.
44If serving later or the next day, allow the casserole to cool and place cold, covered casserole in the refrigerator.
4520 minutes prior to serving, place over medium low heat and simmer very slowly for ten minutes, occasionally basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce.