Beef Bourguignon recipe by The Wine Baron with inspiration from Julia Child, this is my Chateauneuf du Pape variation, with ideas from the French and Austrian kitchens.
One 6-ounce piece of chunk bacon
3 ½ tablespoons olive oil
3 pounds marbled stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
3 large carrots, sliced
1 medium leek, diced
1 large Spanish onion, diced
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons flour
3 cups red wine, full-bodied (like Cotes du Rhone or Bordeaux)
1 litre brown beef stock
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cloves crushed garlic
½ teaspoon thyme
A crumbled bay leaf
16 to 20 red pearl onions, small
3 ½ tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons black peppercorns (tied in cheesecloth)
1 pound mushrooms, (half quartered, half of them full)
Cut bacon into lardons (sticks ¼-inch thick and 1 ½ inches long). Simmer lardons for 10 minutes in a bit of water. Drain and dry.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Sauté lardons in 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a casserole or large stainless steel Dutch Oven over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon.
Dry beef in paper towels. Heat fat in casserole until very hot. Sauté beef and diced onion separately until onion is golden brown and beef is browned on all sides; sprinkle on the flour to coat the beef. Add it to the bacon.
In the same fat, brown the sliced carrots. Pour out the excess fat.
Return the beef, bacon and onion to the casserole on stove element, medium heat, with the browned carrots and toss with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Pour the beef broth into the casserole slowly to allow the heat to maintain the cooking process. Do the same slowly with most of the bottle of wine, just enough of both so that the meat is just covered. Add the tomato paste, diced leek and crushed garlic as well.
Allow the whole thing to cook about 45 minutes on the element for some reduction to take place. Then place covered casserole in middle position of preheated oven. Reduce oven temp to 325 degrees. Cook for three to four hours, checking frequently after the 3 hour mark to make sure there is still enough liquid to keep it from getting too dry. Add the peppercorns in cheesecloth for the last hour or two and fish it out at the end or earlier if the stew tastes sufficiently peppery (which should be subtle).
While the beef is cooking (about an hour before it’s done) prepare the onions and mushrooms. Heat 1 ½ tablespoons butter with one and one-half tablespoons of the oil until bubbling in a skillet.
Add onions and sauté over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling them so they will brown evenly. Do the same with the mushrooms, but they will require only 4 to 5 minutes in the frying pan. Transfer both to a saucepan. Add ½ cup of the stock and salt and pepper to taste.
Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are tender but hold their shape, and the liquid has become thick.
When the casserole meat is tender, skim fat off the top. Skim fat from the onion/mushroom pan as well. On the stovetop, Pour the contents of this pan into the casserole.
You should have about 2 ½ cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If sauce and fat separate too much, you can add a bit of flour. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons stock. Taste carefully for seasoning.
Serve in casserole, or arrange stew on a platter surrounded with roasted or boiled potatoes, noodles or rice, and garnish with fresh chopped parsley.