Updated: Dec 9, 2020
When thinking about this week's meal, I was looking for comfort on a cold day. Something that would filling but also tasty. I've done of my favorite comfort foods in the past, but i wanted something different. This is one of the first things that I popped into my head. Something about the depth of flavor, richness of the sauce, all over creamy mashed potatoes.
I started by looking at the recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child. It’s somewhat of a long recipe, with many steps. French cooking can be tedious, so I used a few short cuts to make this recipe easier myself. I also took out the flour to make it gluten free.
3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil or bacon fat
3 pounds lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
2 onion, medium diced
1 carrot, medium diced
4 ribs of celery, medium diced
Salt and pepper
3 cups red wine (burgundy)
3 tablespoons of beef stock paste
3 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves mashed garlic
1 sprig on rosemary
1/2 teaspoon thyme
A crumbled bay leaf
3 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 pound mushrooms, fresh and quartered
2 tablespoons of corn starch
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
After cutting the beef, dry the beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Season beef liberally with salt and pepper.
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil (or bacon grease) in a casserole pot or dutch oven until almost smoking. Add beef, a few pieces at a time, and sauté until nicely browned on all sides. Remove the beef and set aside. In the same fat, sauté half the onions, celery and carrots until tender. Remember to season the vegetables with salt and pepper too.
Return the beef into the pot. Stir in wine, beef base (with 2 cups water), and tomato paste to the pot. The liquid should be just enough so that the meat is barely covered.
Bring to a simmer on top of the stove. Cover casserole pot and set in lower third of oven. Regulate heat so that liquid simmers very slowly for 3 to 4 hours. The meat is done when it is fork tender.
Now while the beef is cooking, lets start getting the vegetables ready for this sauce.
Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons butter with one and one-half tablespoons of the oil until bubbling in a skillet. Add remaining vegetables, sauté over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, stirring them as they sauté as best as possible. Once the vegetables have sweated themselves out, add the rest of the tomato paste and herbs and stir. Remove from heat.
When the meat is tender, carefully remove the meat from the pot with a slotted spoon. If you have a stick blender or immersion blender, use this to blend up the beef and wine mixture. This step isn't necessary though.
Add the sauteed vegetables and herbs to broth/wine mixture. Simmer sauce for a few minutes. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly.
If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons stock. Taste carefully for seasoning. If you need to thicken it more, you can use the cornstarch in a slurry (equal parts water) to thicken up most sauces easy.
Add meat back to sauce and vegetables. Cover and simmer 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat.
Serve with potatoes, noodles or rice, and decorated with parsley or chives.