Ingredients with some options based upon what I prefer, but indicating that you may prefer something else, or noting that our preferences simply may not be available in your area so you may need some entirely different ingredient:
2 1/2 pounds of lean stewing meat, trimmed and cut into cubes of about 1 inch - here you can use the classic beef chuck, a flatiron steak, a round steak, a good sirloin (my fave), or any other cut of beef that you love and think has the most flavor
to taste fresh cracked black pepper (most recipes call for salt, but I am used to meals without salt and don't use it or if I do I use only a very tiny bit - add salt here if you use it)
2 T all purpose flour
1/2 pound of the best lean bacon you can find cut into nice sized chunks - preferably Applewood Smoked Bacon. Trim this of some of the worst of the fatty parts, but leave some fat. If you prefer, you can use that pre-cooked bacon, but you'll need to add more olive oil (see below) and it won't be as tasty.
1 T pure olive oil - do not use extra virgin because you will be browning the meat in it and extra virgin will burn and smoke on you
1 large onion, chopped, now how big an onion is totally up to you. All depends on just how much you like onion. You may like sweet onions or yellow or white, use the one you like.
|a no carrot variation!|
1 celery stalk cut into chunks - don't forget to add some of the pretty and wonderfully flavorful leaves!
3 garlic cloves, sliced thin
1 bottle of a good Burgundy wine - do not get cheap wine, get good drinkable wine but not the high end wine that costs the Earth. Never ever cook with wine that you wouldn't drink.
beef stock - optional amount determined by need, you don't want the stew to be too liquidy so only add it when specified and ONLY if it needs it because you added a huge amount of veggies or beef.
2-3 tomatoes - depends on the size, squish these by hand or chop. You could use a can of tomatoes, but I think I'd drain it first.
2 Bay Leaves - if you bay leaves are old, please buy fresh ones.
1 t thyme - or more if fresh
2 T fresh parsley, chopped - fresh please.
2 T butter - salted or unsalted as you prefer.
8 oz frozen pearl onions - more if you love them
10 oz button or cremini mushrooms, quartered...or any mushroom you like. Portabellos work very well indeed, but the more dainty thin structured mushroom may not unless you only add it at the very end and don't caramelize it.
Preheat the oven to 350 F
Mix the salt and pepper with the flour and then toss with the chunks of beef.
Heat the oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat, add the bacon and cook til crisp, remove from the pan to a bowl or plate. You want to have a couple tablespoons of fat in the pot. If there's more, drain a bit out.
Return the pot to medium high heat and brown the beef. Do not crowd the meet in the pan because what will happen is that the meat will steam and not brown. It's the brown that makes the stew extra delicious so brown your meat in batches, removing the pieces as they brown to a bowl.
Add the veggies to the pot, lower the heat to medium, and saute until they are softened - about 10 minutes or so. Stir so they don't burn. Add the garlic and saute another minute or two. Deglaze the pan with a small splash of beef stock.
Put the beef and bacon back in the pot with the entire bottle of wine and the chopped tomatoes - you may need to add some beef stock here. The liquid needs to only just barely cover the beef. Remember, the beef will exude some juices and add it to the pot. Add the bay leaves thyme and parsley. Bring to a simmer. Cover and place in the preheated oven for about 1 1/2 hours. The meat should be tender and the liquid reduced a bit.
Saute the mushrooms over medium low heat until well caramelized and drop dead gorgeously brown (about 20-30 minutes) and add them with the pearl onions to the stew, return to the oven for another 1/2 hour.
Taste and adjust the seasonings.