If you've never made Julia Child's Beef Burgundy, I want to convince you to add it to your repertoire this very minute. It is absolutely the perfect make ahead dinner party recipe.
The only way you can possibly screw up it is if you place it on the stove to reheat while you run upstairs to change and get ready for your guests and take too long deciding what to wear and scorch the pan so badly that the whole dish tastes horribly burnt through and through and you actually have to throw away not only the stew but also the pan because it is ruined beyond repair and then you have to go get take out for twelve people from the Italian place down the street.
But believe me....that will only happen once and the zillions of times that you prepare this dish, from that day forward, will all be smashing successes!
Here is what you need:
a large, deep oven proof casserole (I use enameled cast iron Le Creuset)
a slotted spoon
4 slices thick cut bacon
3 lbs. lean stewing beef cut into 2 inch pieces (I use a rump roast)
1 sliced carrot
1 sliced onion
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons flour
3 cups full-bodied red wine (Chianti, Cabernet... just make sure it is good enough to drink)
2-3 cups canned beef broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves smashed garlic
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 crumbled bay leaf
24 small white onions, peeled
1 pound fresh mushrooms, quartered
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup chicken broth
Here's what you do:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Saute the bacon over medium heat until light brown and starting to crisp. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon. Set casserole aside while you pat the pieces of beef dry with a paper towel. Then reheat the casserole with the bacon grease until hot and brown the beef, a few pieces at a time, until nicely browned on all sides, as shown above. Set the beef aside with the bacon.
Now brown the sliced vegetables then pour out any remaining bacon grease and return the beef and the bacon to the casserole and toss with the salt and pepper.
Sprinkle the beef and vegetables with the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly. Set the casserole, uncovered in the middle position of the preheated oven for 4 minutes. Then toss the meat and return to the oven for 4 minutes more. ( This browns the flour and covers the beef with a light crust as shown in the photo above) Remove casserole from oven and reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.
Stir in the wine and enough beef broth so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic and herbs. Cover the casserole and set in lower third of preheated oven. Regulate heat so liquid simmers very slowly for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.
While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms.
Saute the mushrooms in a tablespoon of butter until they start to release their juices and are lightly brown. Set aside.
Saute the onions in a tablespoon of butter until they start to brown then add a cup of chicken broth and simmer gently until they are tender. Drain and set aside.
When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan. So you'll have the sauce in a medium saucepan, the meat and veggies in the sieve and now you can wash out the casserole to clear away any burnt bits and then return the beef and bacon to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms over the meat. (pictured below)
Put the saucepan of sauce over low heat and simmer gently, skimming off any fat that rises to the surface. You want to have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce, thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. If your sauce it too thin, boil it down rapidly. If it is too thick, mix in a few tablespoons of beef broth. Taste carefully for seasonings. Pour the now reduced and thick and wonderful sauce back over the meat and vegetables in the casserole. *Recipe may be completed in advance up to this point.
For immediate serving: Cover the casserole and simmer for 2-3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times. Serve in its casserole, or arrange the stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes, noodles, or rice, and decorated with parsley.
For later serving: When cooled, cover and refrigerate. About 15-20 minutes before serving, bring to a simmer, cover, and simmer very slowly (see introductory paragraph) for 10 minutes, occasionally basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce.