Crisp autumn days and cool nights call for comfort food. Beef stew is at the top of the comfort food wish list in my house. There may be as many versions of beef stew as there are cooks who make it; mine evolved from two major influences: Chef Thomas Keller and my picky-eater son.
A few years ago, I was invited to a pot luck dinner party with a French theme. I had recently purchased Thomas Keller’s Bouchon cookbook, and thought this party would be a great opportunity to make Keller’s Boef Bourguignon. The Bouchon cookbook is a large, beautifully photographed book by a man many consider to be America’s greatest living chef. The Boef Bourguignon recipe is four pages long, takes at least two days to make, and in the process of completing the dish Keller instructs the cook to add and then discard vegetables - twice. I didn’t make Thomas Keller’s Boef Bourguignon, but I did pick up some great tips. My son prefers his beef stew served over mashed potatoes to having potatoes in the stew, so this style is his favorite (though he does pick out the mushrooms.)
2 Cups Red wine
1 beef chuck roast, about 3 lbs.
2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic, sliced
8 sprigs of thyme
Salt and pepper
1 large onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 8-ounce package mushrooms, sliced
3 Tablespoons flour
1 14-ounce can low sodium beef broth
First, put wine in small saucepan on back burner, add 1 clove garlic, one bay leaf and 3 or 4 thyme sprigs, and simmer to reduce while prepping meat and vegetables.
Turn slow cooker to high.
Cut roast into large pieces, about 2 inch cubes, season with salt and pepper and brown in batches in skillet with olive oil.
As beef is browned, remove to slow cooker. After all beef is browned, add onion, carrot, celery and mushrooms to skillet and sauté for a few minutes, adding more olive oil if needed. Season with salt and pepper. Add flour to skillet and cook at least five minutes, stirring constantly. Add beef broth and garlic, stir to combine, scraping browned bits (fond) from the bottom of the skillet. Pour skillet contents over beef in slow cooker. Add remaining bay leaf and thyme. Strain red wine reduction into slow cooker, stir, cover, and cook 4 hours on high or 6 hours on low.
Serve over mashed potatoes.
Makes 6-8 servings