Prep time: 40 minutes
Cook time: 3.5 hours in a Dutch oven, 1.75 hours in a pressure cooker
Great for: family meals, holiday parties, and any other winter dinner
Wine Suggestion: Bordeaux or St. Émilion
3–4 pounds lean stewing beef/beef chuck, cut into 2-inch chunks
4 tablespoons flour
1 cup lardons or pancetta, cut in cubes
4 garlic cloves, peeled, de-germed, and finely minced
6 tablespoons Butter
16–20 pearl onions, fresh or frozen
2 to3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 2- to 3-inch chunks
4 shallots, peeled and sliced
1 bottle red wine (a hearty, but not expensive, Bordeaux)
1 1/2 cups beef stock
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup brandy, Armagnac, or Cognac
1 bouquet garni*
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms (cèpes, chanterelles, or white)
1 10 to 12 ounce can button mushrooms
3 bay leaves
1/4 cup chopped parsley (flat variety preferred), for garnish
6 medium-sized red potatoes, halved and skin on (optional)**
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Using one tablespoon of the flour, coat the beef and toss to cover, and then season with salt and pepper.
Blanch the onions in a pot of lightly salted water boiling for 5 minutes, drain, and set to the side. In a Dutch oven, cook the lardons until brown and crispy, about 7 minutes. Add in the garlic, and cook for another 4 minutes. Remove the lardons with a slotted spoon and set aside on a paper towel. Brown the beef in the same pot, searing all sides until golden. Add carrots and shallots to the beef. Return the lardons your pot. Add enough wine to cover all the beef, as well as the beef stock.
Add the bouquet garni, as well as the cloves and bay leaves. Pour in the brandy and add the tomato paste.
Let simmer on low heat, covered, for a good 2.5 hours, stirring occasionally. If you notice the sauce is boiling down too much, add more wine.
Half an hour before serving, peel the pearl onions, and drain the button mushrooms. In a pan, melt 2 tablespoons and sauté the onions and all the mushrooms. Add them to the pot, stirring with a wooden spoon. If using potatoes, now is the time to add them. Simmer, covered for a half hour.
In a small bowl, mix 3 tablespoons flour with 2 tablespoons of butter with your fingers until you form a paste. This is the beurre manié, which thickens the sauce. Fold it into your sauce about 10 minutes before serving. Season with salt and pepper. Remove the bouquet garni and the bay leaves, and garnish with parsley. Serve with an endive salad and a loaf of fresh French bread.
If using a pressure cooker, prepare all ingredients as indicated—blanching the onions, sautéing the mushrooms, and preparing the beef and lardons. Put everything in your pot in one go EXCEPT for the beurre manié (see above). Cook for 1 1/2 hours. Release the steam. Add the beurre manié to thicken the sauce. Stir, and simmer for an additional 10 minutes.
* Can’t find bouquet garni? Make your own! It’s easy! Using kitchen string, tie 3 bay leaves and 6 sprigs of dried thyme with one sprig of rosemary.
**The dish can be served with potatoes cooking into the recipe, or it can be served over an egg-based pasta, like tagliatelle.
Bon app! And bisous!