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Serves 6-8
Preparation time: 1 hour
Cooking time: 2 1/2 to 3 hours

This is France’s take on stew. And it can be magnificent—if you don’t cut corners. (The salt pork adds a subtle flavor that cooking oil just doesn’t match.) As with all long simmering beef dishes, this one develops an even richer flavor when it’s base is grass-fed beef. The preparation can seem daunting, but just take it step-by-step. Once the prep work is done, you only need to check on it from time to time as it simmers in the oven. If you’re feeling ambitious, sauté about a half-pound of mushrooms in butter and shallots and add to the bourguignon before serving. You can also substitute egg noodles for the potatoes, if they are more to your liking.

  • 6 ounces bacon or salt pork cut into 1½ inch by ¼ inch strips.
  • Canola or Peanut oil for browning the beef
  • 3 pounds lean stewing beef .
  • 2 carrots sliced thinly
  • 1 medium onion sliced
  • ½ cup flour
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • Dash cayenne pepper
  • 3 cups of a full-bodied red wine such as a Rhone or a Cabernet.
  • 3 cups of beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 cloves garlic, mashed.
  • 1 bay leaf, crumbled
  • 3 or 4 sprigs fresh thyme or 1/8 teaspoon ground thyme
  • 3 to 4 medium potatoes cubed
  • 4 medium carrots thickly sliced
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 450°F
  2. Sauté the salt pork strips in a tablespoon of oil in a heavy skillet over moderate heat for seven to ten minutes until crisp. Remove with slotted spoon to a bowl.
  3. Dry the beef cubes in paper towels. They won’t brown as well if they’re wet. Begin adding the meat to the skillet and brown on all sides. Do not crowd the skillet or the meat will steam rather than sizzle. Each batch should brown for two minutes or so.
  4. Remove the pieces as they brown and put them in a three-quart soup pot with a lid or a Dutch oven.
  5. Sauté the sliced onion and carrot in the same fat. You may need to add a little more olive oil. Add them to the bowl with the bacon.
  6. Mix together the flour, salt, pepper and cayenne and sprinkle the seasoned flour mixture over the beef. Toss to coat the beef lightly.
  7. Set the pot in the middle of the oven for four minutes.
  8. Toss the meat again and return to the oven for four more minutes.
  9. Remove the pot and turn down the oven to 325°F.
  10. Deglaze the skillet with a cup of the beef stock, scraping up the brown bits, and pour it and the wine over the meat. Add enough additional beef stock to cover the meat.
  11. Add the sautéed vegetables, bacon, tomato paste, garlic, thyme and bay leaf and stir.
  12. Bring the mixture to a simmer on the stovetop, cover the pot and set it in the oven.
  13. Regulate the heat so that it simmers very slowing for about 2 to 2½ hours. Test the meat for doneness with a fork. It should be tender.
  14. While the meat is cooking peel the potatoes and four of the carrots, cut them into bite sized pieces and place them in a pot of water.
  15. About 30 minutes before serving, salt the water with about a teaspoon of salt and bring it to the boil. Cook for about 25 minutes or until the potatoes are done. Test with a fork. You should get a little resistance.
  16. When the meat is tender, strain the contents of the pot through a colander into a clean saucepan.
  17. Wash out the stewpot. Gently pick out the meat from the colander and return it to the pot. Leave the bacon and as much of the onion and carrots as possible behind.
  18. Heat the sauce over moderate heat, skimming off any fat. If it is too thin, thicken it with a buerre maniere, which is equal parts flour and softened butter kneaded together. Use about three tablespoons of each. If it is too thick, thin it with a few tablespoons of stock.
  19. Combine the meat and sauce with the boiled potatoes and carrots and the sautéed mushrooms (if you’ve been ambitious).
  20. Serve with a crusty bread and a good red wine.
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