This recipe is ripped right out of the pages of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. But that’s not where I learnt it. This is a dish from my childhood. It’s funny how the hings you grow up seem normal. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized that most kids in Canada didn’t have this dish
as a regular staple in their diets. I grew up watching Julia Child on PBS with my mom. I love making this dish, not just because it encourages you to speak in Julia’s high-pitched voice, but because it is a simple beef stew, elevated by technique. Don’t try to skip steps, don’t over fill your pan, don’t cheat. The end result is worth the extra work.
2 lbs beef
ok, lets talk about beef. What cut I use depends on how much time I have. If you need this made in a hurry and still want it to taste awesome, use tenderloin. You can brown it, make the saucy part and serve it medium rare. If you have a couple hours, use sirloin. Makes a nice braise, but doesnt need a ton of time. But for the best tasting, with the richest sauce use something from the shoulder. You can use cross rib, top blade or even chuck shortribs.
1/2 lb bacon
1 lb mushrooms, halved, quartered or whole
1/2 lb baby onions, shallots or cipollini
or if you can’t find any of those, just coarse chop regular onions
1 clove garlic, smashed
2 cups full bodied red wine
2 cups beef stock
2 bay leaves
1 sprig rosemary
salt and pepper to taste
- dice beef into 1 1/2 inch cubes. season with salt and pepper
- cut bacon into 1/2 inch lardons, peel onions (or shallots)
- in a heavy dutch oven, fry bacon until a healthy amount of bacon fat has been rendered. remove bacon from pot and set aside, pour off excess fat, but save the fat.
- working in batches so you don’t crowd the pot. brown beef on all sides. set aside
- return a little bacon fat to the pot. again working in batches, sautee the mushrooms. set aside
- add a little more bacon fat and sautee the onions. deglaze the pan with red wine. add bay leaf and rosemary and bring to a boil. reduce until 1/2 cup of wine remains.
- return beef, mushrooms and bacon to pot. Add stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and braise until meat is fork tender.
- if the sauce is thin, make a slurry with the cornstarch and mix into the sauce. bring back to a boil to thicken
- check seasoning. (trick: if the sauce tastes a little flat you can add a tbsp soy sauce. If it tastes too acidic, add a little brown sugar. If it tastes too sweet, add a tsp vinegar.)
- Be sure to wish your dinner guests a resounding “Bon Appetit!!”