Warm Up With Stew On Cold Winter Nights

Hearty meals are best on cold nights, when food can provide a warming effect after coming in from the cold outdoors. This recipe for “Boeuf Bourguignon” from Jill Lightner’s “Edible Seattle: The Cookbook” (Sterling Epicure) is sure to provide such an effect.

Boeuf Bourguignon
Serves 6 generously

2 pounds beef shoulder, cut into 2-inch pieces (see note)
1 onion, cut into large dice
2 carrots, cut into large dice
2 stalks celery, cut into large dice
2 dried bay leaves
4 sprigs fresh thyme
7 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
1⁄4 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 bottle red wine
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil
1⁄4 pound slab bacon, cut into large dice
1⁄2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1⁄4 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups beef stock
2 large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into large dice
1 pound pearl onions, blanched and peeled
1 pound button mushrooms, diced

1. Put the beef chunks in a large bowl and add the onion, carrots and celery. In a piece of cheesecloth, tie together a bouquet of garni of the bay leaves, thyme, parsley, and peppercorns and add to the bowl. Pour in the bottle of wine. Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator overnight, stirring the mixture once or twice over the course of the evening.

2. The next day, remove the meat from the marinade and dry the pieces in a shallow pan lined with several layers of paper towels. Remove the vegetables and reserve them separately, along with the bouquet garni. Reserve the wine. Season the beef with salt and pepper.

3. In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, warm the canola oil. Add the bacon and cook until browned and the fat is rendered, about 5 minutes. Remove the bacon from the pot and set aside. In single-layer batches, brown the beef chunks on all sides, then set aside. Brown the reserved onions, carrots and celery, about 10 minutes. Add additional canola oil to the pot if there is not enough bacon fat to brown all of the beef and vegetables.

4. Return the beef to the pot with the vegetables and add 3 tablespoons of the butter. Sprinkle with the flour and cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes. Add the reserved wine and deglaze the pot, scraping up all the browned bits from the bottom. Add the bacon and stock and bring to a boil. Skim off the scum that rises to the top; once the scum is removed, add the bouquet garni. Simmer, covered, over medium-low heat until the beef is very tender, about 11⁄2 hours. Remove the bouquet garni.
5. Toward the end of the beef’s cooking time, bring the potatoes to a boil in a separate saucepan covered generously with salted water. Cook until tender, about 15 minutes.

6. In a medium sauté pan, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat. Add the pearl onions and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms to the onions and cook until both onions and mushrooms are golden brown, about 5 minutes longer. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

7. Serve the stew in bowls, garnished with the pearl onions, mushrooms and potatoes.

Note: When shopping for beef, you won’t find a cut labeled “beef shoulder” — what you want is either a chuck roast of some sort or, from a bit lower on the shoulder, a cut labeled either “arm roast” or “round bone roast.”

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