Because sometimes we need a meal with both style and substance. I serve this up with perfectly cooked rice and a lively green salad. In winter I sometimes do mashed potatoes or buttered noodles.
This will take about 3 hours but longer doesn’t hurt.
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 ounces small brown onions or shallots, chopped
3 1/2 ounces thick-cut bacon, diced
1 1/2 pounds stewing beef, cut into 1 1/2 -inch pieces, patted dry
Scant 1/4 cup flour
1 1/4 cups any type of stock, hot
1 1/4 cups red wine, but you can use a richer beef stock or a little soy sauce in hot water. If you are unable to drink wine tra-la, then either boil the pot hard for a few minutes to make sure the wine evaporates during cooking and use only one cup, or go without. It will be delicious but not traditional. Don’t use grape juice or anything fruity instead of wine. And if you have a French guest for supper, don’t call this Boeuf Bouguignon or the outraged French guest will send around a Michelin inspector to eliminate you. The ghost of Julia Child will rise up in the night and chain smoke cigarettes in your kitchen as she mutters about how ethanol volatiles burn off in cooked food.
1 bouquet garni (1 bay leaf, 3 sprigs fresh thyme and 3 sprigs parsley, tied together)
3 1/2 ounces portobello mushrooms, diced
1. In a heavy pan (I have a large orange Le Creuset) over medium heat, heat olive oil. Add onions and bacon and cook, stirring, until browned. Remove them and set aside; leave fat in pan.
2. Add beef and brown on all sides (work in two batches to avoid crowding).
3. Sprinkle browned beef with flour, stir until browned and add stock. Stir, scraping bottom of pan, then add reserved bacon and onions, the wine if used and bouquet garni. Season with pepper.
4. Simmer very gently for 2 hours.
5. Add mushrooms and cook 30 minutes more. Season with salt and serve. Or, even better, reheat and serve the next day.
This will serve four hungry people but can be stretched to six. I hardly ever use wine in cooking any longer but here it adds a deep rich layer of flavour. If you are getting into a tizz about the idea of alcohol lingering on in a pot of stew, then make a French omelette with chives or roast a chicken instead and avoid any wine dilemmas. If the mere smell of alcohol is going to send you dashing for the mouthwash or vanilla extract, just keep it simple.