I’ve come to realize that that my food cravings have a direct correlation to what’s happening outside my window each day. While I felt slightly cheated this past summer (two terrible summers in a row Vancouver, really?!), it seems Mother Nature is doing her best to make it up to us with some brilliant crisp fall days. And let me tell you, hot Vancouver summers are great but give me a crisp sunny fall afternoon any day and I’m happy! However, one thing that remains the same, rain or shine; my cravings in fall towards cosy comfort foods.
I adapted this recipe from Ina Garten’s Barefoot in Paris. I served it with my favourite mashed potato recipe (mmmm, mashed potatoes and stew, sooo cosy!!) but you could serve it with baby potatoes or crusty bread, whatever starch you like best!
While it calls for a Dutch Oven, I’m sure you could use a stock pot with a tight fitting lid, or even tin foil. I, of course, used this recipe as an excuse to get the beautiful Strauss Dutch oven I’d been coveting for months!
1 tablespoon good olive oil
8 ounces dry cured center cut applewood smoked bacon, diced
2 1/2 pounds chuck beef cut into 1-inch cubes
Kosher salt & Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound carrots, sliced diagonally into 1-inch chunks
2 yellow onions, sliced
2 teaspoons chopped garlic (2 cloves)
1/2 cup Cognac
1 (750 ml.) bottle good dry red wine such as Cote du Rhone or Pinot Noir
1 can (2 cups) good quality beef broth (I get mine from my local butcher)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
8 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature, divided
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 pound fresh pearl onions, blanched and peeled
1 pound fresh mushrooms stems discarded, caps thickly sliced
2 cups frozen sweetlet peas
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is lightly browned. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a large plate.
Dry the beef cubes with paper towels and then sprinkle them with salt and pepper. In batches in single layers, sear the beef in the hot oil for 3 to 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove the seared cubes to the plate with the bacon and continue searing until all the beef is browned. Set aside.
Skim fat from pan until you have about 2tbs. Toss the carrots, and onions, 1 tablespoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of pepper in the fat in the pan and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the Cognac, stand back, and ignite with a match to burn off the alcohol. Put the meat and bacon back into the pot with the juices. Add the bottle of wine plus enough beef broth to almost cover the meat. Add the tomato paste and thyme. Bring to a simmer, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and place it in the oven for 2 hours. Check the liquid level and as if it’s getting dry, add more stock. Increase the heat to 350 and bake for another 45 minutes.
Remove the stew from the oven and place on an element on medium heat. Combine 6 tablespoons of butter and the flour in a small bowl. Add some of the liquid from the stew to the butter/flour mixture. Mix to combine and add the slurry back to the stew. Add the blanched pearl onions to the stew. Saute the mushrooms in 2 tablespoons of butter for 10 minutes until lightly browned and then add to the stew. Bring the stew to a boil on top of the stove, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Season to taste.
Meanwhile, steam your frozen peas on the stovetop, or microwave.
5lbs Yukon gold potatoes
1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 cup salted butter
1/4 cup sour cream
Maldon salt & freshly ground pepper
Peel and cube the potatoes and place in a large pot of salted water. Bring to boil and reduce to a simmer for 10-15 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Drain and mash or rice, depending on what texture you’re looking for. Add milk, sour cream, butter and salt & pepper, and check seasoning.
Place a healthy serving of mashed potatoes in your bowl, top it with stew, freshly steamed peas and chopped fresh parsley.