During the cold months of winter when the wind is beating mercilessly against the house and the trees around us are groaning and aching under the strain, nothing calms my nerves in quite the same way as a warm and hearty stew. While it doesn’t solve the issue of a tree potentially falling on the house, it does serve as a very pleasant distraction, and this wonderfully aromatic old French country stew is one of my favorite winter dinners. Don’t be intimidated by the fancy incomprehensible name, this dish is simple beef stew at its finest. Tough cuts of beef are simmered down to tender perfection, combining the rich flavor of the meat with the delicious freshness of winter vegetables like carrots, parsnips, shallots, and onions, creating the most delicious gravy-like stock imaginable.
The key to a delicious stew made without burnt bits at the bottom is to make sure to give it a stir when it’s on the stovetop every 20 minutes or so, and to use a quality cooking vessel. In my complete and honest opinion, there is no better quality pot than Falk copper, which I have been cooking with for over a year now. The difference between cooking with copper coated pans versus plain steel, aluminum, or cast iron is that copper distributes the heat evenly throughout the vessel, meaning that the edge of the bottom of a copper pan is just as hot as the center. This keeps food from burning and sticking to the bottom of the pan as easily, since it eliminates the unexpected hot spot that many other types of cookware develop with food getting burnt onto the same area of the pan over and over again.
For this stew, I used their new Pot au Feu, an incredibly beautiful vessel that’s custom made for evenly heating dishes like this one. I’ve been using it for stews and soups in the winter, and in the summer it’s going to make the perfect jam pot for all the fresh Oregon blackberries I plan on picking from the ragged blackberry bushes along the trail near my house. If you’re looking to get someone a holiday gift that will really blow their socks off, I am pointing you directly to this pot. Like literally, both hands pointing vigorously and with enthusiasm. Luckily for all of us, the incredibly generous folks at Falk have offered one Pot au Feu up for a giveaway for one of you! To enter, use the rafflecopter giveaway below. The entry period ends December 26th at 11:59 pm PST. Best of luck everyone!!
This classic French country stew is perfect for the cold weather months. Hearty, but not heavy, it combines the perfect marriages of cozy winter vegetables like carrots, onions, and parsnips with the comforting flavor of beef, bacon, and a touch of cognac. It also keeps very well for leftovers, so you can make this the day before and just refrigerate overnight, too.
- 1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 8 strips bacon thick cut
- 2 pounds chuck beef cut into 2-inch cubes
- salt to taste
- black pepper to taste
- 1 large yellow onion diced
- 2 shallots diced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 3/4 lb carrots peeled and sliced
- 1/4 lb parsnips peeled and sliced
- 1/2 cup cognac
- 1 bottle dry red wine
- 2 cups beef broth
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon tomato paste
- 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1 lb pearl onions frozen
- 1 lb brown button mushrooms thickly sliced
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme diced
- Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Heat the oil in a large dutch oven or pot oven-safe up to 250 degrees over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until crispy on both sides. Remove the bacon and set it aside.
- Pat the beef cubes dry with paper towels and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Cook them in batches until browned on each side, making sure they're in one even layer on the bottom of the pot, about 5 minutes. Remove them and set them aside.
- Add the onions, shallots, and garlic to the pan and sauté until translucent, about 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes. Add the carrots and parsnips and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add the cognac and step back, use a match to ignite it to burn off the alcohol. When the fire dies out, cut up the crispy bacon into smaller pieces and add it and the beef back to the pot.
Add the wine and enough beef broth to just cover all the meat and vegetables. Stir in the tomato paste and thyme and bring the mixture to a simmer.
Cover, remove from the stove top, and place in the oven to continue cooking for 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes, or until the beef is tender and the vegetables are cooked through. Remove from the oven and place back on the stovetop over medium low heat.
Whisk together 2 tablespoons of melted butter with the flour until a thick paste forms. Stir this paste into the stew until it disintegrates, then add the frozen pearl onions.
In a several medium pot, sauté the mushrooms in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter over medium high heat until they darken and become slightly wrinkled, about 6-10 minutes. Add the mushrooms to the stew and lower the heat to a simmer.
Allow to cook for another 20 minutes before removing from heat. Add salt and pepper to taste, garnish with fresh thyme, and serve immediately.
Adapted from Ina Garten