Now that the days are chillier, with much needed rain, my Dutch oven is being put to a lot more use. This is the time of year, when I become a lean and mean "Searer" and "Braiser". The aroma of a savory stew, wafting from the kitchen, is comforting. My Perfect Pot Roast recipe rules as one of the most appreciated slow-cooked dinners that I make. Cooking an inexpensive cut of beef, in a braising liquid, for a long period of time yields tender meat and a succulent sauce. Drool.
Last week, I had a craving for Beef Burgundy -- aka "Beef Bourguignon". I couldn't stop thinking about the first time I had this dish, at a catered party. I really wanted to recreate this stew, with it's rich and flavorful sauce.Visions of Julia Child, popped into my head. I've never read-- let alone, made --the esteemed Julia's recipe-- and I assumed her recipe would be a lot of work. Still, it was 1:00 in the afternoon and I had Christmas cookie dough to make. I realized that I didn't have the time to make this classic French stew and I needed my oven! The slow cooker was out-- and then it hit me.
Pressure cook it! I know, I know... pressure cookers scare a lot of newbies. There is a fear of an explosion. I tell you the truth-- It's an unfounded fear. My first pressure cooker was a stovetop model, with the regulator (that "thingie" that rocks back and forth with a chhh-chhh-chhh sound). Not once, did I have an explosion.
About 9 years ago, I invested in an electric digital pressure cooker, and I love so many features of this model. Mine has a browning cycle, and a non-stick removable insert and I love it's oval shape. The brand is "Cook's Essentials" and I bought mine from QVC. I see that the newer model is completely different than mine, and has less stellar reviews. The day mine breaks, I would buy a 5-quart model all over again.
Don't worry. If you don't own a pressure cooker, you can make this in a Dutch oven. If you want to make this in a slow cooker-- I beg you to not do one thing that makes my skin crawl. Please, don't throw in raw meat! To me, the best tasting stews come from taking the time to sear and brown the meat, first. All that beautiful brown crusty build-up, in the pan is what gives the sauce great flavor.
First, we build flavor. I keep frozen bacon, so it's easier to cut into "lardons". In a heavy skillet, cook the bacon until crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon onto a paper towel lined plate. Set aside.
Pearl onions are traditional in this stew. Peeling them takes work, so I used frozen onions. I simply rinsed them, shook them dry and then sauteed them until they were lightly golden.
When you buy stewing meat, ask your butcher about Chuck Eye Roast. I pay about $7.00 a pound, but it's worth it. Seriously. It's the perfect meat for stewing, and is far more tender than buying "stew cut meat". With stew cut meat, you don't know what the butcher has thrown together, and I've had my fair share of chewy stew.
I cut the meat into bite-size pieces and make sure that it's dry. Season the meat with salt & pepper and flour and toss together to coat evenly.
In the same pan that I cooked add a little vegetable oil, and bring the pan to medium-high. Open up the windows and turn on your vents. We're about to do some seriously searing. The key to searing is to get the pan very hot. Don't crowd the meat and leave it alone for 2-3 minutes. If you keep moving the meat around, you won't get the sear = less flavor = bummer. It took about 3 batches to get all the meat nicely browned. Pile the seared meat into a big bowl.
I then added a heaping tablespoon of tomato paste, and stirred it around the dark "fond" that was built. Now, we're going to "deglaze" with 1-1/2 cups red wine. I used burgundy, but any kind of red wine will do. Scrape the pan and stir the liquid around, loosening up the brown bits.
Add the carrots and bacon, and give it a stir.
In a Dutch oven, place into a 275 degree oven for 3 hours or simmer on low on the stove top.
Slow cook for 6 hours, on low.
Pressure cook for 40 minutes! Yes, 40 minutes.
Clean the same skillet, and on medium heat, melt the butter and oil until bubbling.
Add the cleaned and dry mushrooms and saute the mushrooms for about 5 minutes— shaking the skillet intermittently until the mushrooms are lightly golden (about 7 minutes total). Remove from the skillet and set aside.
Add the mushrooms, and onions.
For the pressure cooker, seal the lid again and pressure cook (on high) for 5 minutes more. Release the steam, and the stew is ready. For a Dutch oven or slow cooker, allow to cook for about 15 minutes more.
Toss in some chopped fresh parsley and serve.
NOTE: if you prefer a thicker stew, I made a slurry of cornstarch and water and carefully whisk it in; simmer until thickened. However, I didn't need to do that, this time.
Traditionally, this stew is served with steamed potatoes. I was craving egg noodles. Um, I didn't have any... so I made my own. (Yes, I can be an over-achiever at times.) I didn't document how I made the noodles, but I'll do it again and save that for another post.
The meat was buttery tender, the sauce had a rich flavor with notes of red wine. The next day, it tasted even better. I would serve this at a dinner party, and am sure that my guests would love it.
So, after I made this stew I quickly wrote down how I created it. Out of curiosity, I did an internet search to see if I could find Julia Child's recipe. I did a fist pump, realizing that my version was very similar to hers. Wow!
I would like to thank Barbara, of Pressure Cooking Today, for featuring this post on her wonderful blog. Barbara has a lot of mouth-watering recipes and valuable information about pressure cooking. If you've been thinking that you "might" want a pressure cooker, I encourage you to just do it!
Thanks to Barbara, I am using my PC to make mashed potatoes in 6 minutes. I can cook beans in a fraction of the time it takes to do it on a stove. Soups... rice pudding... it's like a microwave, only better (and healthier).
A printable recipe card is at the end of this post. If you can't view the recipe card (Internet Explorer uses are having problems with this, click here.)