When I first posted this recipe (from Julia and Jacques) I got only one photo showing the stage of the recipe before the food went into the oven. I made it again and this time I got more photos from the process. Still, missing one showing the food on the table. Next time, I promise. The onion and mushroom side dish is simplified here. I used frozen onions and sliced mushrooms. There’s 4 steps in the recipe, a) the lardons, b) the beef, c) the veggies, d) the side dish, and e) the gravy. All but (b) and (c) can be omitted for a family version.
Ingredients for the main dish
- 5 ounces salt pork (or bacon)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 4 pounds boneless beef chuck roast or top blade (I used chuck roast)
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 1/2 cups of chopped onion
- 1 1/2 cups peeled and chopped carrot
- 6 sprigs fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried
- 3 bay leaves
- handful of parsley stems
- 1 head garlic, cloves separated and crushed but not peeled
- 1 large tomato chopped
- 1 bottle strong red wine (Julia and Jacques recommend pinot noir, I used zifandel)
- 1-2 cups dark stock
How to make the beef stew
- Prepare the lardons
Cut the salt pork into slices, then into strips and then simmer with a little water for 10 minutes to remove the salt. Drain, rinse in cold water and pat dry (none of this is needed if you use bacon but the bacon alternative is my suggestion, not Julia’s). These pieces are called `lardons’. Saute the lardons until lightly brown, remove and place in the casserole (I used Dutch oven). Because my guests this time do not eat pork, I skipped the pork step, hence no photos.
- Prepare the beef
Trim the beef of all fat, cut into chunks (about 18 pieces), dry it with paper towels and add salt and pepper. Brown the beef chunks in the fat from the lardons or bacon that you prepared in the previous step. Make sure that the pieces have enough room around them. If you crowd them, they will start boiling. When all the beef is done, remove the fat from the pan, add a cup of wine and bring to simmer. Let any brown bits mix with the wine by scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon and add the liquid to the casserole.
- Prepare the veggies
Now, you need to make a bag with vegetables and then you’ll be ready to put the casserole in the oven. Fold in cheese cloth the onions, carrots, thyme, bay leaves, parsley stems, garlic cloves and tie securely. Place the bag in the middle of the casserole and surround it with the sauteed beef. Top with the tomato pieces and add more wine and up to 1-2 cups of stock to cover the meat chunks.
Cook in pre-heated 300 F oven for about 2 hours, or until the meat is tender. You can stop the recipe here and serve with noodles or couscous.
Ingredients for the mushroom and onions side
- 18 small white onions
- 1 1/2 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 cup stock
- 10 ounces fresh mashrooms
How to make: To peel the onions easily, put them in a pan with boiling water for a minute. Take them off and remove the peel (you can do it with your hands, no knife necessary, the good part of the onion will just pop out if you squeeze the peel). You can make a cross at the bottom to keep them from falling apart. Fortunately I had to do none of this because I used frozen onions, all nice and clean 🙂 Trim and clean the mushrooms. Cut them in halves if they are big (I used sliced mushrooms that I found in my fridge). Put the onions in a saucepan together with the butter, sugar, salt and 1/2 cup or more of stock. Bring to boil, cover the pan tight and cook for about 10 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking until the liquid evaporates and he onions are glazed (=become brown and shiny/caramelized). Add the mushrooms. Cook in moderate heat until all the veggies are browned. The mushrooms will release liquid so do not add any more liquid thinking there’s not enough for the mushrooms to cook. When the veggies are all glazed and colored set aside. You can deglaze (=let the brown bits stuck in the pan mix with something liquid) the pan with some wine or stock and pour that, too, in the casserole.
- Prepare the gravy
Finally, to make a gravy like sauce, put 2 tablespoons butter in a pan with 2 tablespoons flour and heat to make a thick paste. Add 1/2 cup or more liquid from the stew to thin the sauce. You can mix the sauce with the stew and cook it for a bit longer or pour it on top when you serve it.