Perhaps the first ethnic beef stew that made a big splash in America, along about the sixties, was this potful of wine-soaked beef from Burgundy
5 pounds boneless beef chuck, cut into 11/2-inch cubes
4 carrots, cut into large chunks
2 stalks celery, cut into large chunks
1 large yellow onion, cut into large chunks
3 garlic cloves, quartered
1 bunch of fresh thyme, leaves bruised with dull end of a knife
2 bay leaves
6 cups dry red wine
1/2 pound thin-sliced bacon, cut into 1/2-inch strips
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup flour
1 pound pearl onions
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon sugar
1 pound button mushrooms, wiped clean and quartered
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1. Put beef, carrots, celery, yellow onion, garlic, thyme, bay leaves, and cloves in a large mixing bowl. Toss by hand to combine. Add red wine and cover tightly. Marinate, stirring once or twice, overnight in refrigerator.
2. Strain and dry off the meat and vegetables, reserving liquid separately. Allow meat to come to room temperature before proceeding (about 1/2 hour).
3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
4. In a deep, ovenproof kettle with a tight-fitting lid, sauté bacon over moderately high heat until well browned and crispy, about 7 to 8 minutes. Remove bacon and set aside on paper towels to drain. Leave fat in pan. Sear meat in batches until deep brown, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. (Do not overcrowd pan or meat will not color properly.) Remove meat with slotted spoon and set aside. Add vegetables from the marinade with the salt and the pepper, and sauté, stirring several times so that vegetables do not burn, until nicely caramelized, about 7 to 8 minutes.
5. Add flour and stir it around, coating all the vegetables. Put meat back in the kettle and slowly pour in the marinating liquid. Bring the liquid to a boil, scraping the bottom of the kettle to deglaze it. Boil for 2 minutes, then cover kettle with the lid, and place in preheated oven. Cook, stirring only once, for about 2 1/2 hours. (Meat should be fork tender but not falling apart.)
6. Strain off the liquid, and separate the meat from the vegetables. Discard the vegetables, and set the meat aside. Degrease the liquid and return to the kettle. Boil the liquid over high heat for about 45 minutes, or until thickened to a sauce-like consistency. Return meat to kettle (include whatever bacon bits you can). The stew can be made up to this point up to 2 days ahead. Cool, then refrigerate, tightly covered. Bring to room temperature and rewarm before adding the onions and mushrooms.
7. Drop pearl onions into a small pan of boiling water for 1 minute. Remove from water and when cool enough to handle, peel off the skins.
8. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over moderately high heat. Add pearl onions, sugar, and enough water to just cover the onions. Cook until water has evaporated and onions are tender, about 20 minutes. (They should be coated with a light buttery glaze.) Add to the stew.
9. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons of butter over high heat in a large skillet. When butter is hot, sauté mushrooms, turning once or twice, in batches until nice and golden, about 5 minutes total. (Do not overcrowd pan or mushrooms will steam and not brown properly.) Add to the stew.
10. Heat the stew for 10 to 15 minutes over moderate heat. Before serving, adjust seasoning and sprinkle with the chopped parsley.
Perhaps the first ethnic beef stew that made a big splash in America, along about the sixties, was this potful of wine-soaked beef from Burgundy. It's still an enormously satisfying stew, as it has been for hundreds of years. Our version, we think, tastes best if you do steps 1 through 6 a few days before serving. Serves 10