Beef Stew

This is a hybrid of the traditional American beef stew with a Creole-tinged beef Bourguignonne, the classic French dish. For all the fanciness of that French name, this is a simple stew of beef in an interestingly-seasoned red-wine sauce with mushrooms. Every now and then I get a taste for this, and all the time it takes to make it suddenly becomes of no significance. It may well be better the second day.

In New Orleans, beef stew is always served over rice, even if it includes potatoes. This will cause consternation to friends who may recently be from the northerly regions.

Beef stew, with rice on the side.

Beef stew, with rice on the side.

  • 1/4 lb. bacon
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 lbs. beef round or chuck, cut into one-inch cubes
  • 2 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely-chopped onion
  • 1 crushed large garlic clove
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, seeds and membrane removed, chopped coarsely
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 2/3 cup tomato puree
  • 2 cups beef stock (or water)
  • 1/4 tsp. thyme
  • 1 tsp. marjoram
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. Louisiana hot sauce
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 2 cups cleaned, quartered mushrooms
  • 2 lbs. new potatoes, quartered
  • 1 large turnip, cubed
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 3 sprigs parsley, leaves only
  • 2 cups cooked long-grain rice

1. In a large, heavy saucepan or Dutch oven, fry the bacon until only partly crisp. Remove bacon but leave fat.

2. Combine flour and 1/2 tsp. salt. Dust the beef with the flour mixture.

3. Add the oil to the bacon drippings and heat until almost smoking. Brown the beef on all sides, then remove from the pan. Pour off the excess oil, but don’t wipe the pan.

4. Lower the heat to medium. Add onions, garlic, and bell pepper, and cook until soft. Add the wine and bring it to a light boil. Stir the pot to dissolve the browned bits at the bottom into the wine. Let the wine boil for about five minutes.

5. Add the tomato puree, beef stock, thyme, marjoram, bay leaf, black pepper, paprika and Worcestershire. Add the remaining salt, the beef and the bacon. Heat to boiling, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer gently, covered, for about an hour, stirring now and then. If the mixture seems to be getting dry, add a little more water or stock.

6. Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the carrots, potatoes, and turnip. Cook until tender–about 20 minutes. Drain, then add to the stew pot, along with the peas, mushrooms and parsley. Continue simmering until the mushrooms are tender and the starchy vegetables have begun to absorb the sauce.

Serve over rice.

Serves four to six.

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