Published January 1, 2001.
The essence of this hearty French beef stew is flavor, and lots of it. The secrets? Use the right cut of meat, salt pork, and a brown roux; forget canned beef stock; and buy the best bottle of wine you can afford.
This classic, intensely flavorful rustic French dish often loses its appeal in the home kitchen. We've seen too many versions with tough meat or a dull sauce and no flavor complexity.
To bring this dish to its earthy, robust, warm potential: Satisfyingly large chunks of beef that are utterly tender, in a sauce brimming with voluptuous wine and infused with aromatic vegetables, garlic, and herbs, finessed into a sauce of burgundy velvet studded with mushrooms and pearl onions.
Start with salt pork rendered crisp, then brown the large chunks of beef chuck roast in the rendered fat. For the braising liquid, use a combination of canned chicken broth and water, enhanced with a small amount of dried porcini mushrooms and tomato paste. Use a full bottle of red wine (preferably a Burgundy, but a good Pinot Noir will suffice), adding most at the start of the braising but saving a bit with which to finish the sauce. Use a roux to thicken the sauce, and then finish the dish with a splash of brandy and fresh parsley.list of recipes