Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What's for Dinner?

Beef Stew.  It's warm, hearty and speaks of winter.  My favorite version is a mix of two similar recipes from the Joy of Cooking (sorry Julia Child!).  The "Boeuf Bourguignonne" recipe has complexity and depth while the "Basic Recipe" has all of the familiar elements.  Mix them together and it's delicious! 

Beef Stew
Joy of Cooking and Joy, serves 6-8

2 lbs. stew meat
2 c dry red wine
1/4 c olive oil
1 onion, chopped,
1 carrot,  peeled and chopped
1 garlic clove
1 bay leaf
2 T parsley, chopped
1 t fresh thyme
1 t pepper
1/2 t salt
4 oz. bacon, diced
any other additions you'd like: carrots, potatoes, onions, celery, cut into chunks
beef stock, optional

Mix all ingredients but the last three in a large bowl. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour but overnight is best.  Turn the meat occasionally.  When ready to cook, drain the beef and pat dry.  Strain the marinade and reserve separately from the vegetables.

Heat a large pot over medium high heat and brown the bacon.  Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon leaving the fat in the pot.  If you don't have at least 2 T, add some oil.  Add the beef in batches and brown on all sides being careful not to overcrowd the pot.  

Remove the beef, add the marinated vegetables and cook until lightly browned for about 5 minutes.  Stir in 2 T flour.  Cook, stirring constantly for about 1 minute.  

Add the reserved marinade and then add the beef and bacon back to the pan.  If there isn't enough liquid to almost cover everything, add some beef stock, chicken stock, or wine.  How much to add depends on how much liquid you prefer in your stew.  Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook, covered until the meat is fork tender, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Once the meat is tender, add the other desired vegetables. Cover and cook until the newly added vegetables are tender, 35-40 minutes.  Skim any fat from the surface.  Taste and adjust the seasonings.  Add freshly chopped parsley, if desired. If the sauce seems too thin, add a little kneaded butter to thicken (equal parts softened butter and flour mixed well. Use sparingly) Serve with crusty bread and enjoy.

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