AKA “Christmas in Paris (kinda!)”

My father Edward love to serve this dish on Christmas day with their dinner table surrounded by all our family. The original recipe comes from the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten, with a couple updates. It’s a pretty intense meal, preparation wise, as you’ll see from the instructions. That’s why we usually only cook this once a year. Makes 6 servings.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 ounces high-quality bacon, preferably smoked
  • 3 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 pound carrots, sliced diagonally into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 yellow onions, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Cognac or very good brandy
  • 1 bottle (750ml) good dry red wine (preferably Pinot Noir)
  • 2 cups canned beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 pound frozen small whole onions
  • 1 pound mushrooms, stems removed, caps thickly sliced
  • 1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven.
  2. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is lightly browned.
  3. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside. Dry the beef cubes and sprinkle them with salt and pepper.
  4. In single-layer batches, sear the beef in the hot oil for 3-5 minutes, browning them on all sides.
  5. Remove the seared cubes and continue searing all the beef until done. Set aside.
  6. Place the carrots, onions, 1 tablespoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of pepper into the fat in the pan, and cook over medium heat for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally until the onions are lightly browned.
  7. Add the Cognac, stand back and ignite with a match or a lighter to burn off the alcohol.
  8. Place the meat and bacon back into the pot with any juices that have accumulated on the plate you stored them on.
  9. Add the wine plus sufficient beef broth to cover the meat. Add the tomato paste and thyme.
  10. Bring to a boil, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid, and place in the oven for about 1-1/4 hours or until the meat and vegetables are very tender when pierced with a fork. Remove from the oven and place back on the stove.
  11. Combine 2 tablespoons of the butter and the flour with the fork and stir into the stew. Add the frozen onions.
  12. In a medium pan, saute the mushrooms in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat for 10 minutes. Season to taste.

*Serve on top of egg noodles or spoon the stew over slices of bread on the plate. Garnish with the parsley.
**Recommended wine: A Pinot Noir, preferably from Burgundy. They can be expensive, and there are so many different producers. Don’t feel like you have to spend a small fortune on a Burgundy. Find a good wine retailer and ask them for a recommendation in the $15 range.

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