I am triumphant!
Because I successfully made this dish with almost zero experience and quite a bit of distraction.
I consider myself a vegetarian (I'll have some meat maybe twice a year) so my experience with meat is limited to a few dishes of chicken or steak for NH.
Certainly nothing in large quantities.
With both families coming for a Christmas dinner, I wanted to serve something special- no vegetable entrees for my benefit. I went through a dozen ideas before finding the right one. From roast beef (NH said please no since it's not his favorite) to duck (thank God for Mom who passed on that one duck serves 3 people- yikes!) to a pot of meatballs, (didn't seem special enough) to turkey (my dad doesn't care for it).
Two weeks ago I stumbled across my dish during an internet search. Bœuf Bourguignon, or Beef Burgundy in English, popped up. Brilliant!
A special dish of beef, carrots, bacon, and onions simmered in Pinot Noir and garnished with mushrooms- I knew this would be ideal. In the end I selected a different slow cooker recipe, which I modified to use my big Le Creuset pot in the oven.
Only half of the beef gets the flavor-building browning, cutting down on the work but yielding the same results.
I started the stew at 1:30pm and it was more than ready for the table at 6:00pm. Most of the work was done long before our guests showed up (and ALL the messy stuff); the last-minute steps were extremely forgiving of my socializing and distraction.
These pictures show the stew right before going in the oven- unfortunately it was too hectic right before we sat down with the finished dish so I didn't grab a picture. It's a shame, because it really was gorgeous at the end. The sauce and vegetables were delish! I may not have a taste for meat anymore, but I have a great appreciation for the flavors given to its neighbors.
Note: Traditional accompaniments are egg noodles or mashed potatoes; I served with a lemon-parsley orzo and it was divine.
8 ounces bacon, chopped
4 lbs beef chuck stew meat, but into 1 1/2 inch chunks
salt and pepper
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
8 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
4 Tbs tomato paste
1 1/2 cups plus 1 cup Pinot Noir
1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/3 cup soy sauce
3 bay leaves
3 Tbs Minute Tapioca
3 Tbs fresh parsley, chopped
2 cups frozen pearl onions
4 Tbs unsalted butter
1 Tbs sugar
1/2 cup water
10 oz crimini mushrooms, quartered
Position the oven rack in the middle; you may need to remove the top shelf completely to make room for the Dutch oven.
Over medium-high heat, cook the bacon until crisp in a heavy bottomed, oven safe Dutch oven. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate, and refrigerate until the end of the recipe. Pour out half the bacon fat into a small bowl and set aside.
Dry the beef thoroughly and season with salt and pepper. Place 1/4 of the beef in the Dutch oven in a single layer and brown on all sides, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate and brown another quarter of the meat for about 8 minutes. Set all the beef aside, half of which remains un-browned.
Add the reserved bacon fat and heat over medium high until shimmering. Add the onion, carrots and 1/4 tsp salt and cook until the vegetables begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomato paste and stir until beginning to brown, another 30 seconds. Transfer the vegetable mixture to a bowl and set aside. Return the Dutch oven to high heat and add 1 1/2 cups wine, chicken broth and soy sauce. Simmer, scraping the brown bits from the bottom of the pot until clean, about 1 minute.
Remove the pot from the heat and add the reserved beef and vegetable mixture back to the pot. Stir to combine, cover and place in the oven for 3 hours. Stir after 1 hour and 2 hours.
After 3 hours, remove the pot from the oven. In a medium saucier pan, bring the pearl onions, butter, sugar, and water to a boil. Cover and simmer over medium-low until the onions are tender, about 5 minutes. Uncover and increase the heat until liquid evaporates. Add the mushrooms and 1/4 tsp salt and cook until the mushrooms are browned. Stir this mixture into the stew.
In the empty saucier, bring 1 cup Pinot Noir to a boil and reduce for about 5 minutes. Add small amounts of this liquid to the stew pot to adjust the flavors. (I used all, you may not want so much).
At this point, you can keep the stew for a while in the (turned-off) oven to stay warm until ready to eat. Or serve right away! Just before serving, stir in the chopped parsley and the bacon.