4-8 hrs
serves 6-8
Like most braises, this stew is at its best if prepared the day before you plan to serve it. Use a red wine that you'd like to drink. I used a California merlot because it was what I had on hand. Try to avoid using canned stock: homemade chicken stock would be far better than canned beef broth, which is often salty and tinny tasting.
  • 8 ounces or 5-6 slices thick-cut bacon, diced
  • 3 pounds beef round or chuck, cut in 1-inch cubes
  • 2 to 3 cups red wine, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 medium yellow onions, chopped
  • 3 medium to large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1 cup beef or chicken stock, preferably home-made
  • 1 pound mushrooms, quartered

If using the oven: preheat oven to 300˚F.

In a large stainless or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, cook the diced bacon until the fat has rendered, and the bacon is golden and crisp. Drain the bacon on a paper-towel lined plate and reserve for later. Pour off all but a tablespoon of bacon fat from the pan.

Return the skillet to medium-high heat. When the fat is shimmering, add a single layer of beef cubes to sear. Do not crowd the pan! Let the beef cook, without moving it, 1-3 minutes, until it releases naturally, and the underside is golden-brown. Turn the meat and sear on the other side. Transfer the browned meat to a 5-6 quart Dutch oven or large bowl. Deglaze the skillet with a small bit of the wine, scraping the dark bits from the bottom. When the pan is cleaned, pour the wine over the seared meat.

Return the skillet to the heat, add 1 more tablespoon of the reserved bacon fat, and repeat the process. Continue to brown the meat and deglaze the pan in batches.

After all the meat has been seared, return the skillet again to medium heat, and add one more tablespoon of bacon grease. Cook onions with a bit of salt until soft and browned, 6-7 minutes. Add the diced carrots and celery, and cook until softened. Add the garlic and tomato paste, and cook, stirring, just until the fragrance blooms. Add the vegetable mixture to the meat.

Heat the skillet yet again, and warm one tablespoon of bacon grease over medium heat. Use vegetable oil if there’s no more bacon fat. Cook mushrooms with a bit of salt, stirring occasionally, until they have released all their liquid, and the liquid has evaporated. After 6-8 minutes the mushrooms should be golden brown. Transfer the mushrooms to a clean bowl of their own, and set them aside to be added to the braise toward the end of cooking.

 

cook in the oven

Put the beef and vegetable mixture in a 5-6 quart Dutch oven, and stir in 1 teaspoon salt. Tuck the bay leaf and the sprigs of thyme into the mixture. Pour the stock and the remaining wine over all. The liquid should not quite cover the meat and vegetables. Add more stock as required so that the ingredients just peek out from the liquid. Cover the pot and put in the oven. Cook at 300˚F for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, and then check the meat, since exact cooking time will vary. When finished, the meat will be fork-tender.

cook with a slow cooker

Put the beef and vegetable mixture in a 5-6 quart slow cooker insert with 1 teaspoon salt. Tuck the bay leaf and the sprigs of thyme into the mixture. Pour the stock and the remaining wine over all. The liquid should not cover the ingredients – it should only come 3/4 the way to the surface of the meat/veg. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours. When finished, the meat should be fork-tender.

finish the dish, using either method

Once the meat is tender, stir in the reserved bacon and mushrooms. Simmer in the Dutch oven over medium heat or cook in the slow cooker on high until the mushrooms are warmed through, about 10 minutes.

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