This is an adaptation of Julia Child's recipe*. I made a few changes to make it a little easier to make, had to skip the "pearl onions glazed in stock" because my store didn't have any pearl onions (fresh or frozen), and, needless to say, I skipped the fungus at the end. I was fortunate in that I had just made some homemade beef stock with real oxtails earlier this week, which I reduced down. I think that really helped with these flavors. (I just put 3 oxtails and 2 cups of water and a pinch of salt, with some veggies that were about to expire, in my 2 quart slow cooker and cooked on low for about 9 hours. Strained, chilled, skimmed off the fat, and reduced to a luscious, velvety stock.)
Served with real mashed potatoes, and peas and carrots. A religious experience.
I made about 1/2 the recipe that Julia's book calls for:
For my version, you will need:
6 oz. of bacon, cut into lardons, which is a fancy name for slicing your bacon strips into tiny strips.
1 1/2 lbs. lean stewing beef cut into cubes (I used eye of round, and trimmed it well)
1 peeled and sliced carrot
1 sliced yellow onion
1 T flour
1 1/2 cups full bodied red wine (I used some really good Cabernet)
1 to 2 cups of beef stock
1Tb. tomato paste
3 cloves minced garlic (Julia says to use 1, but hey! I'm a Koszuth!)
1/2 tsp. thyme
1 bay leaf
First, take your meat cubes and lay them between 2 layers of paper towels. They must be absolutely dry in order to brown. Oh, and preheat your oven to about 325.
In a 12-inch skillet (mine has straight sides and is about 3 inches tall), cook your bacon lardons (I just like saying that word -- makes me feel so French) until crispy. Remove them to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but about 1 T of fat, but save the rest, you may need it. Set your heat to medium-high. Now, without crowding your pan, sear your meat cubes on all sides, in batches. Add more fat if necessary. Remove and drain on paper towels. (This recipe must be sponsored by Bounty, as it takes up a lot of paper towels.)
If there's not about 1 T of fat left in the pan, add more. Now, brown the carrot and onion in the same pan. Once they're brown, add the bacon and beef back in and sprinkle on the flour. Stir well to coat, and cook the flour for about 4 - 5 minutes. Add more fat if the flour isn't absorbed.
Stir in the wine, stock, garlic, S&P, thyme and tomato paste. There should be enough liquid to JUST cover the beef. If not, you can add more stock or plain water. Check at this point to see if it needs more S&P. Bring to a simmer, then cover and put into your oven for about 3 hours. Check the heat from time to time. Things should be just barely simmering. I ended up turning my oven down to about 275.
At this point, I think the stew is done, but Julia goes through this whole process of straining and reducing the sauce, adding pearl onions and fungus, etc. You can look up her recipe if you want all that hassle (sorry Julia!), but I think its great right now.
Serve with mashed or boiled potatoes, or buttered noodles, and something green. Julia says peas. I also would serve it with something red, like a nice glass of Cabernet.