>> Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Now I am not one to shop. In fact, most of the time I find shopping a hassle and just wish I have a personal stylist who would buy my clothes for me so I wouldn't have to walk aimlessly in the malls looking for clothes.
I've never had a shopping spree before where I go crazy with $2000+ Bottega Veneta bags.
But it's a different story when it comes to shopping for my kitchen...
My lastest shopping spree resulted in a damage of a couple of hundred dollars. Ouch.
I'd like you to meet my very first cast iron cocotte:
- 9- to 10-inch, fireproof casserole dish , 3 inches deep
- Slotted spoon
- 6 ounces bacon (I used speck)
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil or cooking oil
- 3 pounds lean stewing beef , cut into 2-inch cubes (I used chuck steak)
- 1 sliced carrot (I added sweet potato too!)
- 1 sliced onion (plus zuchinni in my version!)
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
- 2 Tbsp. flour
- 3 cups full-bodied, young red wine , such as a Chianti
- 2 to 3 cups brown beef stock or canned beef bouillon
- 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 2 cloves mashed garlic
- 1/2 tsp. thyme
- Crumbled bay leaf
- Blanched bacon rind (I omitted this)
- 18 to 24 small white onions , brown-braised in stock
- 1 pound quartered fresh mushrooms , sautéed in butter
- Parsley sprigs
Remove rind from bacon, and cut bacon into lardons (sticks, 1/4 inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long). Simmer rind and bacon for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts of water. Drain and dry.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Sauté the bacon in the oil over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon. Set casserole aside. Reheat until fat is almost smoking before you sauté the beef.
Dry the stewing beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Sauté it, a few pieces at a time, in the hot oil and bacon fat until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the bacon.
In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the sautéing fat.
Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with the salt and pepper. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly with the flour. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat and return to oven for 4 minutes more. (This browns the flour and covers the meat with a light crust.) Remove casserole, and turn oven down to 325 degrees.
Stir in the wine, and enough stock or bouillon so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs, and bacon rind. Bring to simmer on top of the stove. Then 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. Set them aside until needed.
When the melt is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan. Wash out the casserole and return the beef and bacon to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms over the meat.
Skim fat off the sauce. Simmer sauce for a minute or two, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons of stock or canned bouillon. Taste carefully for seasoning. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables. Recipe may be completed in advance to this point.
For later serving: When cold, cover and refrigerate. About 15 to 20 minutes before serving, bring to the simmer, cover, and simmer very slowly for 10 minutes, occasionally basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce.