French Beef Stew with Shallots

We have simplified this classic method by skipping the browning of the meat. The result is more tender meat with less shrinkage. It is most important to buy the recommended cuts of meat which are high in connective tissue. The anchovy in the recipe really sparks the beefy flavour of this stew. The gelatine gives a glossy sheen and lovely body to the sauce. Serve with French bread to soak up the divine sauce and a green salad dressed with our Classic Red Wine Vinaigrette.

YOU WILL NEED

  • 500 g – 750 g chuck or well trimmed boneless brisket
  • 1½ cups (375 ml) red wine
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 bouquet garni
  • 3 T (45 ml) butter (be generous - this is French cooking!)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • ½ t (2,5 ml) Ina Paarman’s Green Onion Seasoning
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 T (15 ml) flour
  • ½ cup (125 ml) water
  • 2 x 25 g Ina Paarman’s Liquid Beef Stock
  • 2 T (30 ml) Ina Paarman's Tomato Pesto
  • Ina Paarman's Garlic Pepper Seasoning to taste
  • 125 g rindless streaky bacon, cut each rasher into 4 pieces
  • 10 shallots or pickling onions, peeled but left whole
  • 100 g small button mushrooms
  • 2 anchovy fillets, mashed
  • 1 t (5 ml) gelatine powder soaked in 2 T cold water
Method

Cut the meat into 4 cm cubes and trim away any excess fat. Put the meat, wine garlic and bouquet garni in a glass bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave in the fridge for at least 3 hours or preferably overnight.

Adjust the oven rack to one slot below middle position. Preheat the oven to 140°C.

Heat 2 T of the butter in a heavy cast iron pot. Add the onion, pre-seasoned with Green Onion Seasoning, and carrots and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute.

Strain the wine into a frying pan and reserve the meat and bouquet garni. Boil the wine fast over high heat to reduce it by one third. Add water, Liquid Beef Stock and Tomato Pesto.

Add the wine mixture to the glazed vegetables and bring to the boil. Add the cubes of meat, stir well and bury the bouquet garni in the stew. Put the lid on and cook for 2 hours in the oven.

Heat the remaining butter in the frying pan and cook the bacon and shallots, stirring, for 8 – 10 minutes or until the shallots are beginning to brown. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 – 3 minutes or until glazed. Add the shallots, bacon and mushrooms to the stew. Add the mashed anchovies and soaked gelatine.

Cover the pot and return to the oven for 30 minutes, or until the meat is fork tender. Discard the bouquet garni. Taste for seasoning. It improves with standing and is even better the next day.

Why do anchovies enhance meaty flavours?

Evidence published recently in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences explains why: Besides glutamate, anchovies contain the compound inosinate. Scientists have found inosinate has a synergistic effect on glutamate, heightening its meaty taste by up to fifteenfold.

Keeping leftover anchovies:

Freeze in the oil, they keep almost indefinitely.

Ina's Tip

Bouquet garni simply means a little bunch of herbs. Wrap a bay leaf around a piece of celery, twig of parsley and thyme. Tie with a long piece of string that hangs out over the edge of the casserole for easy removal.

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