A variation of Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon…which really, you can’t improve upon. Make sure you take your time in preparing this dish. Don’t rush it.

2 1/2 lbs chuck beef, cut into chunks and dried throughly
6 oz bacon, diced
salt and pepper
3-4 large carrots, sliced
1 yellow onion, diced
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 bottle dry red wine (like Pinot Noir)
2 cups beef broth
1 TBS tomato paste
1 tsp thyme (fresh is best, but dried will work in a pinch, just halve the amount)
4 TBS butter, divided (at room temperature)
3 TBS flour
1 lb mushrooms, caps removed, thickly sliced (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Season the beef with salt and pepper. In a large dutch oven or other heavy oven-proof pot, cook the diced bacon over medium heat until it is brown and crispy. Remove the bacon but leave the hot grease and add the beef in small batches, browning on all sides. Remove to a plate and add more beef. The key to making sure the meat browns quickly and evenly is drying the meat very well with paper towels before placing it in the hot grease and not putting too much meat in at a time.
Once all the meat is browned and removed, add the carrots, onion, and 1 TBS of salt and a pinch of pepper to the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes. Then add the garlic, meat, and bacon. Stir to mix and pour the whole bottle of wine over everything. Add as much broth as needed to completely cover everything. Add the tomato paste and thyme. Stir gently, cover and let simmer for about 5 minutes. Then slide the pot into the preheated oven and cook for at least two hours. You can cook it longer, just lower the temperature a little (325) and check on it occasionally. Add more broth as it cooks down.
About 20 minutes before you want to serve, combine 2 TBS butter and 3 TBS flour in a small saucepan on the stovetop. Melt and stir until well combined and set aside.
If you are doing the mushrooms (which I recommend), melt the remaining 2 TBS butter in a skillet and add the mushrooms. Sauté until brown.
Remove the stew from the oven and place back on the stovetop over low heat. Stir in the mushrooms and butter mixture. Simmer for about 10 minutes, until everything is thick and creamy. Serve over mashed potatoes or with crusty bread. Yum!

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