The stew of all stews, Julia Child’s Beef Bourguingon is absolutely divine. It is a perfect dish to make ahead of time, as the flavors continue to develop after cooking. Prepare a big batch to get yourself through another bone-chilling week, or serve it at a dinner party. Believe me, it’s worth the effort and the wait.
Adapted from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking
6 oz chunk of bacon
1 Tb olive oil
3lbs. lean stewing beef cut into 2-inch cubes
1 sliced carrot
1 sliced onion
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 Tb flour
3 cups full bodied-young red wine
2-3 cups brown beef stock
1 Tb tomato paste
2 cloves mashed garlic
1/2 tsp thyme
1 crumbled bay leaf
Remove rind from bacon and cut into lardons. Simmer rind and bacon for 10 minutes in 11/2 quarts of water. Drain and dry.
Preheat oven to 230ºC.
In a fireproof casserole dish, sauté the bacon in the oil over moderate heat for 2-3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with slotted spoon. Reheat until fat is almost smoking before you sauté the beef. Dry the beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Sauté it, a few pieces at a time, in the hot oil and bacon fat until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the bacon. In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the sautéing fat.
Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with the salt and pepper. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly with the flour. Set the casserole uncovered in the middle position of the preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat and return to oven for 4 minutes more. (This browns the flour and covers the meat with a light crust.) Remove casserole, and turn oven down to 160ºC.
Stir in the wine, and enough stock or bouillon so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste. garlic, herbs, and bacon rind. Brig to simmer on top of the stove. Them cover the casserole and set in lower third of preheated oven. Regulate heat so liquid simmers very slowly for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.
When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan. Wash out the casserole and return the beef and bacon to it. Distribute cooked onions and mushrooms over the meat.
Serve with a full bodied, young red wine.