This recipe needs no introduction (although I'm going to give it one anyway)
Of all the Julia Child recipes, I believe this one is the most famous.
It was the one I swore I'd cook first when I recieved my beloved copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking (although it didn't turn out to be the first)
Page 315, of MtAoFC proudly presents to it's readers.....
And here's my attempt at making such a scrumptious dish.
Let me start off by telling you about my biggest obstacle......
Get this.....apprently it's the butcher's obstacle too because he didn't even know what bacon rind is. Rind? huh? He had to go in the back and ask one of the more seasoned butchers....the one with the little belly and white hair....who easily explained to both of us that it's pig skin. Great! Although now I question the knowledge of our up and coming butchers. I mean, it's not my job to know what rind is....but the other butcher? Come on....he should know his meat...right?
Anyways....bottom line....my grocery store doesn't carry it.
But! Have you ever bought ham hocks? That tough skin on the outside is the rind.....so that's what I used.
Bacon doesn't come in a 6 oz chunk either. I considered using salt pork....but decided to use regular old bacon instead.
I guess when Julia wrote this cookbook, you could easily buy a chunk of bacon with the rind attached. hmmm....maybe you still can. Just not at the supermarket chain that I frequent.
Ok...lets get on with the show
6 oz bacon
Rind from one ham hock
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 lbs lean stewing beef cut into 2" chunks
1 sliced carrot
1 sliced onion
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons flour
3 cups of a full-bodied, young red wine (make sure it's a good bottle. If you wouldn't enjoy drinking it, you certainly won't enjoy it in your food)
2 - 3 cups beef stock or beef bouillon
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon thyme
2 garlic cloves, mashed
1 bay leaf, crumbled
18-24 small white onions, browned and braised (ingredients and instructions below)
1 lb fresh mushrooms, quartered and sauteed (ingredients and instructions below)
(whew...thats a pretty damn long list. Did I mention that I dedicated one whole day to this dish? Just sayin')
Remove the rind and cut that bacon into strips
Simmer the rind and the bacon in 1.5 quarts of water for about 10 minutes. Drain the water and dry the meat.
Preheat the oven to 450' F
In a 9" fireproof (and ovenproof), deep (at least 3") casserole dish, heat oil over medium heat and saute the bacon until it's lightly brown. Remove the bacon from the dish and set aside, leaving the fat in the casserole dish. Set the casserole dish aside.
When you're ready to brown the beef, reheat the fat until its just about to smoke. Dry the beef
and saute a few pieces at a time until it's nice and brown. Add it to the bacon that has been set aside.
In the same fat, brown the sliced carrots and onions
Pour the sauteing fat out and return the beef and bacon to the casserole dish. Toss with salt and pepper
Sprinkle in the flour over the meat and toss so that every thing's lightly coated. Set the dish in the middle of the oven for about 4 minutes. Toss the meat and continue heating for another 4 minutes. Remove the dish from the oven and turn the temperature down to 325' F.
Stir in the wine and enough beef stock to barely cover the meat. Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs and bacon rind
On the stove top, bring to a simmer. Cover the casserole and set in the lower third of your oven. Cook for about 2 1/2 - 3 hours, or until meat is done.....easily pierced with a fork.
Now....while that is cooking you can work on the small onions and mushrooms.
Brown-braised Onions - you will need the following:
your 18-24 small white onions....peeled
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons oil
1/2 cup beef stock or bouillon, red wine or water,
salt and pepper to taste
an herb bouquet: 4 sprigs of parsley, 1/2 bay leaf and 1/4 teaspoon thyme all tied up in cheesecloth.
Heat the butter and oil in a 9" skillet until bubbly. Add the onions and saute over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes, gently rolling the onions around so they brown evenly but be careful....you don't really want to break the outer skin....although it may happen to a few....try not to.
Pour the beef stock in the skillet, season with salt and pepper and toss in the herb bouquet. Cover and simmer for about 40 - 50 minutes. The liquid will have evaporated and the onions will be tender but still retain their shape. Remove and discard the herb bouquet.
Now for the Sauteed Mushrooms
Your 1 lb of quartered fresh mushrooms
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons oil
Over high heat, heat the butter and oil in a large skillet bringing the butter to a foam. When the foaming starts to subside, you will add the mushrooms. Saute, stirring frequently for about 4 - 5 minutes.
Now this is a really cool thing that I learned from Julia.....During the sauteing process, mushrooms will first absorb the fat....then a couple of minutes later they'll release the fat. You'll see it on the surface of the mushrooms...and it's at this point that they will begin to brown.
Once the mushrooms are lightly brown, remove them from the heat.
(whew...I need a break! But hang in there...we're almost done)
When the meat is nice and tender, strain the contents of the casserole dish into a large saucepan. Wash the casserole dish and return the beef and bacon to it. Add the prepared onions and mushrooms
Skim the fat off the sauce that you poured into the saucepan. Simmer the sauce for a minute or so, skimming off more fat as it rises. Now at this point you should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce that's thick enough to lightly coat a spoon. If it's too thin, rapidly boil it down....if it's too thick, add a few tablespoons of beef stock or bouillon. If needed, season with salt and pepper then pour the sauce over the beef mixture
Cover and simmer for about 2 -3 minutes, basting everything several times.
Julia recommends serving with potatoes and peas