This is as staple a French meal as one can get, and it’s delicious to eat. The traditional French recipe is a hearty peasant-type meal which relies on slow cooking and the aromatic flavours of garlic, onion, carrots and a bouquet garni of herbs.
Auguste Escoffier, legendary French chef and proponent of modern French cuisine, is generally touted as the father of this recipe although the recipe has changed over the years to reflect the changes in cooking techniques available ingredients.
60g chunk bacon, cut into small pieces
600g beef-stew meat, cut into 3cm pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1/3 carrot, from the thick end, peeled and diced
2 teaspoons flour
1 cup red wine
1 cup beef stock
Herb packet of 1/2 bay leaf; 1 large clove garlic, smashed; a handful of parsley stems; 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme; and 5 peppercorns, all tied in cheesecloth
3 or 4 baby onions or 4 (2cm) pieces of leek
4 baby carrots, or the thin ends of larger ones
2 or 3 new potatoes
French bread (optional).
Brown the bacon in a heavy and large saucepan. When it is lightly browned transfer it to a medium bowl, leaving the fat in the pan.
Pat the pieces of beef very dry with a paper towel, then season all over with salt and pepper. Add the olive oil to the pan, and when it’s hot, brown half the pieces of beef over medium-high heat on all sides, about 5 minutes total. Transfer the meat to the bowl of bacon. Brown the remaining beef and add to the same bowl.
Keep the pan over the heat and sauté the onion and carrot until lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Return the meats to the pot, sprinkle with the flour, season with a pinch of salt and pour in the wine and stock. Tuck the herb packet into the pot and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover and cook at a bare simmer until tender, 2 hours or more.
Add the baby onions, baby carrots and potatoes, bring to a boil and simmer, covered, until tender when pierced with a fork, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve yourself 4 to 5 chunks of meat with all the vegetables and a good French bread to mop up the sauce. The dish benefits from sitting overnight in the refrigerator.
Serves 1-2 people depending on appetite.