Hey... I'm a "Julie And Julia" movie fan, I had to post this recipe, haha. I LOVE to make this dish on chilly fall and winter days. Its so comforting and tastes like absolute heaven. It may be a lengthy recipe with a lot of preparation. But trust me.. Its WELL worth the effort!
A 9 to 10-inch fireproof casserole 3 inches deep
1 TB olive oil or cooking oil
A slotted spoon
3 lbs lean stewing beef cut in 2-inch cubes
1 sliced carrot
1 sliced onion
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
2 Tb flour
3 cups of a full-bodied red wine such as one of those suggested for serving, or a Chianti
2 to 3 cups brown beef stock or canned beef bullion
1 TB tomato paste
2 cloves mashed garlic
½ tsp thyme
A crumbled bay leaf
The blanched bacon rind
18 to 24 small white onions, brown-braised in stock (page 483)
1 lb quartered fresh mushrooms sautéed in butter (page 513)
Sauté the bacon in the oil over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to side dish with a slotted spoon. Set casserole aside. Reheat until fat is almost smoking before you sauté beef.
Dry the beef in paper towels, it will not brown if it is damp. Sauté it, a few pieces at a time, in the hot oil and bacon fat until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the bacon. In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the sautéing fat.
Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with the salt and pepper. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly with the flour. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of pre-heated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat and return to oven for 4 minutes more. (This browns the flour and covers the meat with light crust). Remove casserole, and turn oven down to 325 degrees.
Stir In the wine and enough stock or bullion so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs, and bacon rind. Bring to simmer on to of the stove. Then cover the casserole and set in lower third of preheated oven. Regulate heat so liquid simmers very slowly for 3 to 4 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.
While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms. Set them aside until needed.
When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve or set over saucepan. Wash out the casserole and return the beef and bacon to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms over the meat.
Skim fat off the sauce. Simmer sauce for a minute or two, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 ½ cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoon of stock or canned bouillon. Taste carefully for seasoning. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables.
(*) Recipe may be completed in advance to this point.
For immediate serving: Cover the casserole and simmer for 2 or 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times. Serve in its casserole, or arrange the stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes, noodles, or rice, and decorated with parsley.
For later serving: When cold, cover and refrigerate. About 15 to 20 minutes before serving, bring to the simmer, cover, and simmer very slowly for 10 minutes, occasionally basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce.