Smoked Bourbon Chicken

April 25, 2016

My General Electric oven has electronic ignition and every few years I have to have a new electronic ignition installed. GE has designed the oven so that you cannot replace the part without removing the oven door, making it more trouble than its worth. Until I can get the repairman out I am stuck using my grill for most of my cooking. I saw today’s recipe on a recent episode of Cook’s Country TV show. It looks deliciously smokey and is a minimum about of work. I used more wood chips than called for in the recipe, and there was beautiful pink smoke ring. 4-1/2 stars for its simplicity and wonderful smokiness.

Deeply smoked chicken with minimum effort

Deeply smoked chicken with minimum effort

Comments:

  1. I had trouble finding 3-1/2-pound chickens, so I used the smallest I could find; 4-1/2 pounds.
  2. If you are using a gas grill, replace Step 7 with the following instructions: Remove the cooking grate and set the wood chips directly onto the primary burner. Replace cooking grate and set all burners to high. Cover and pre-heat grill for 15 minutes. Leave the primary burner set to high but turn off all other burners. You may need to adjust your primary burner to maintain grill temperature between 350 to 375 degrees.

Rating: 4-1/2 stars.
Cost: $12.
How much work? Low/Medium.
How big of a mess? Low/Medium.
Start time 5:00 PM. Ready at 5:45 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. My descriptions of how I prepared it today are given below:

1 shallot
4 garlic cloves
1-1/4 cups bourbon
1-1/4 cups soy sauce
1/2 cup packed brown sugar (3-2/3 ounces)
2 teaspoons pepper
2 whole chickens (3-1/2 to 4-lbs each)
1 cup wood chips
4 wooden skewers (12-inches)

  1. Mince your shallot and 4 garlic cloves. Add to a medium saucepan along with equal amounts of bourbon and soy sauce. Add 1/2 cup brown sugar and 2 teaspoons ground black pepper.
  2. Cover and put saucepan over medium-high burner until comes up to a boil; about 5 minutes. Boil for 1 minutes and remove from heat source; allow to cool completely; about 1 hour, but you can make and refrigerate it up to 3 days ahead-of-time.
  3. Set aside 3/4 cup bourbon mixture for basting in Step 8.
  4. Prepare the chicken by discarding giblets (or reserving to make chicken stock). Set chicken on a cutting board with the breast-side downward and use kitchen sheers to cut on each of the backbone.  Flip chicken over with skin-side upwards. Use a chef’s knife to cut through the center of the breast and split the chicken into two halves. Cut 1/2-inch deep slits, spaced 1/2-inch apart. Put one chicken (two halves) into 1-gallon Zip-lock bag (total of 2 zip-lock bags). Equally divide the marinade between the two bags. Seal and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, but preferably overnight. Flip occasionally to evenly distribute the marinade.
  5. Soak 1 cup wood chips in water for at least 15 minutes. Remove wood chips from water and put center of a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Wrap up and cut two 3″-slits in the top.
  6. Remove chicken from marinade-filled bags and pat dry using paper towels. Throw away the marinade. Insert a skewer length-wise through the thickest part of breast down and through the thigh of each chicken half. (see photo)
  7. Open the bottom vents of your grill half-way, and ignite a large chimney starts filled with charcoal; about 6 quarts. When the top coals become partially covered with fine grey ash, empty so that coals are steeply banked against on side of the grill, while the other side is completely empty.  Set wood packet directly on top of coals. Put grill grate in place, cover and allow to pre-heat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil cooking grate using paper-towels dipped in vegetable oil.
  8. Set chicken on the grill with the skin-side up and the legs towards the fire. Cover grill and cook for 1bout 1-1/2 hours, basting with the reserved marinade every 15 minutes. After 45 minutes rotate the positions of the chicken so that they cook evenly; but still keeping the lets closer to the fire. The chicken will be done when the breast reach 160-degress and the thighs reach 175-degrees.
  9. Set chicken on carving board and loosely tent with aluminum foil. Allow to rest for 20 minutes, before carving and serving.

Broccoli-Cheese Soup

April 8, 2016

I first made this soup last October, but came across a few technical issues which I have corrected when I made this soup again over the weekend. In fact, I loved it so much that I made a second batch the next day. The soup is very flavorful, and uses baby spinach to amplify the broccoli flavor (and color). The recipe uses sharp cheeses (sharp cheddar and parmesan) to attain great cheesy flavor, but without so much cheese as to make the soup feel heavy or fat laden. I splurged a little and bought a sharp English cheddar, but since it only added a few dollars because the recipe just needs 3-ounces. Overall the recipe is delicious; 4-1/2 stars.

Delicious soup has been great for the cold weather

Delicious soup has been great for the cold weather

I was hoping to stretch the soup throughout the week (for lunches), and was a little surprised that the recipe only yields 4 bowls of soup. So I made a second batch yesterday, still having enough baby spinach and sharp English cheddar to make the second batch. I only need to buy another 2-1/2 pounds of broccoli.

  1. The recipe calls for peeling the stalks; which was laborious when I first made this recipe in October. This time I only spend a few minutes peeling the stalks before breaking into 1-inch pieces. It saved nearly 30 minutes.
  2. The original recipe calls for something between 3 to 4 cups of water (in addition to the 2 cups of chicken broth); adjusting the amount of water in the final step according to your desired consistency. I would suggest adding at least 1 cup; and if you are planning to reheat, to add 1-1/2 cups of water.
  3. Because the soup was so thick, there was a lot of soup left in the blender after Step 5. To recover some of the lost soup, I blender the final cup of water (added as part of Step 6); which rinsed out most of the leftover soup, before adding the water to the pot.
  4. I bought an extra 1/2 pound of broccoli, because some of the stalks were very long and I wanted to trim away the very thick and hard portion. Besides, it was only sale for only 99-cents/pound.
  5. I did not quite have enough dry mustard powder for the second batch, so I used the following substitution rule: 1 teaspoon dried mustard = 1 Tablespoon prepared mustard.

Rating: 4-1/2 stars.
Cost: $7.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess? Medium.
Start time 5:00 PM. Ready at 5:45 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. My descriptions of how I prepared it today are given below:

2 pounds broccoli (I used 1lb 10 oz florets, plus 6 ounces of stalks)
1 medium, roughly chopped onion (1 cup)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium garlic cloves, pressed (2 teaspoons)
1-1/2 teaspoons dry mustard powder
pinch cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon table salt
3–4 cups water
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups chicken broth
2-oz baby spinach (2 cups)
3-oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (3/4 cup)
1-1/2 oz Parmesan cheese, grated fine (about 3/4 cup)
1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper

  1. Prepare broccoli by roughly chopped florets into 1-inch pieces, trim the stems, then peeled and cut into 1/4″-thick slices. Prepare onions by roughly chopped which should yield about 1 cup.
  2. Add butter to large Dutch oven set over medium-high burner. After the foaming subsides, add the prepared broccoli, onion. Press the garlic cloves directly into the pot. Add 1-1/2 teaspoons dry mustard powder, a pinch of cayenne pepper, and 1 teaspoon table salt.
  3. Cook for 6 minutes, stir frequently. After the pot becomes fragrant, add 1 cup water and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda. Bring water up to a simmer, cover, and reduce burner to maintain a simmer, and continue cooking for 20 more minutes until broccoli becomes very soft, stir once half way through cooking.
  4. Add 2 cups chicken broth and 2 cups water. Turn up burner to medium-high. Once pot is at a simmer, stir in baby spinach and wilt for 1 minute. Remove pot from burner.
  5. Put half of soup in blender, add shredded cheddar and grated Parmesan, and process for 1 minute until smooth.Empty into a medium-sized bowl and repeat this step with the remaining soup.
  6. Empty bowl of soup back into the Dutch oven, set over medium burner until begins to simmer. Add up to 1 cup of water until you attain the desired consistency (if you have a lot of leftover soup in blender; rinse blender first with the 1 cup of water, before adding it back to the pot). Adjust seasoning with salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper according to taste. Serve, with extra Parmesan passed separately.

Roasted Bone-In Chicken Breasts with Jalapeño and Cilantro Sauce

April 2, 2016

It’s been a few years since Chicken Breasts were my “go to” meal; recently I have been opting more for thighs. Today’s recipe slow-bakes chicken breasts in a low, 325-degree oven; then gives them a quick sear on the stove-top. Generally the breasts were moist, but a few of the slightly smaller pieces overcooked. For me, the biggest problem with this recipe is trying to brown a round breast in a flat skillet. Only 60% of the skin browned; leaving the sides of the chicken covered in flabby skin. The sauce was nice and bright. The chicken is a slightly below average 2-1/2 stars, while the sauce is 4-stars.

Side skin is flabby and unappealing

Side skin is flabby and unappealing

Comments:

  1. The cooking instructions for the second-side of the chicken were very confusing; I did not understand what they wanted so I just cooked the second side of the chicken.
  2. There are a few alternative for the sauce; including Tahini and Honey Sauce or Spicy Butter Sauce.

Rating: 2-1/2 stars.
Cost: $10.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess? Medium.
Start time 5:00 PM. Ready at 6:00 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe for the chicken is here, and the sauce is here. My descriptions of how I prepared it today are given below:

Chicken Ingredients:
4 bone-in chicken breasts (total of about 3-1/2 pounds)
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

  1. Set a rack to the lower-middle of your oven and pre-heat to 325-degrees. And prepare a rimmed baking sheet by lining it with aluminum foil.
  2. Working with one breast at a time; trim away any excess fatty skin from the thick end of the breast. Carefully work your fingers under the skin to separate the skin from the meat. Leave the skin attached and the top, bottom, and at the ribs. Sprinkle each breast with just under 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt, then lay the skin back in place. Poke 6 to 8 holes in the fat deposits of the skin using a paring knife. Set on the prepared baking sheet with the skin-side upwards. Repeat with remaining chicken pieces.
  3. Bake in 325-degree oven from 35-to-45 minutes until the chicken reaches 160-degrees. While the chicken bakes; prepare the sauce,
  4. Remove from oven when the chicken is ready, and pre-heat a 12″ regular skillet over a low burner for 5 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and swirl so that the pan is evenly coated. Put chicken into skillet with the skin-side down, and turn up burner to medium-high. Cook for 3-to-5 minutes without moving the chicken; the skin will become crispy and well-browned.
  5. Flip the chicken and prop the thick-side of the breast is facing downward, continuing to cook for 1-to-2 minutes more until browned.
  6. Remove to serving platter and allow to rest, uncovered, for 5 minutes.

Jalapeño and Cilantro Sauce Ingredients:

1 cup fresh cilantro leaves and stems
3 jalapeño chiles
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  1. Trim and coarse chop the cilantro. Stem and seed the jalapeños, if would want a spicier sauce include some of the seeds.
  2. Add all ingredients (except for olive oil) to your blender and process for 1 minute. Scrape the sides of the blender and continue to process for 1 more minute; until the sauce is smooth.
  3. With the blender running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until it becomes incorporated. Empty into a serving bowl.

Smashed Potatoes with Bacon and Parsley

March 26, 2016

I love the simplicity and creaminess of mashed potatoes, but hate the chore of peeling. I especially hate peeling hot potatoes (which I did for 15 years). This recipe leaves the skins on. Since I don’t need to process the potatoes with a ricer, the skins don’t get in the way. The cream cheese provides wonderfully texture; yet not as creamy as mashed potatoes. The bacon provides lots of flavor. Instead of thinning with milk, it is thinned using the potato cooking water. Overall, 4-stars. Less healthy than regular mashed potatoes; but more flavorful.

No peeling necessary

No peeling necessary

Rating: 4-stars.
Cost: $4.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess? Medium.
Start time 4:00 PM. Ready at 5:00 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe for is here. My descriptions of how I prepared it today are given below:

2-lbs small red potatoes
salt and pepper
1 bay leaf
6 slices bacon
4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
3 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

  1. Cut cream cheese into 8 pieces and add to medium bowl allowing to come up to room temperature while the potatoes cook.
  2. Put potatoes in a large saucepan and fill with cold water until the potatoes are covered with 1″ water. Add 1 teaspoon salt and bay leaf. Bring to boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently for 35-45 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, cut bacon lengthwise in half, and then crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces. Fry bacon for 5 to 7 minutes in 10-inch skillet over medium burner until crispy. Use a slotted spoon to remove bacon to plate lined with paper towels. Discard all but 1 tablespoon of bacon fat and use the residual heat of the skillet to melt the butter. Empty into the medium bowl with cream cheese.
  4. Before draining the potatoes, remove 1/2-cup cooking water and set aside. The potatoes will be done when a paring knife inserted into potatoes meets no resistance. Drain the potatoes and discard the bay leaf. Return the potatoes to pot, and allow to sit in pot for 5 minutes, uncovered, which will allow the surfaces are dry.
  5. While potatoes are drying, Whisk together the cream cheese, melted butter and bacon fat until smooth and fully incorporated. Add in 1/4-cup of reserved water (not the full 1/2 cup that you set aside), chopped parsley, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and stir to combine.
  6. Use a wooden spoon to smash potatoes just enough to break skins. Fold in the cream cheese mixture until most of the liquid has been absorbed and chunks of potato remain. Add more cooking water if needed, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the potatoes are slightly looser than ultimately desired (potatoes will thicken a little as they sit).
  7. Adjust salt and pepper according to taste. Stir in chopped bacon from Step 3. Serve immediately.

St. Patrick’s Day Corned Beef Brisket

March 24, 2016

This year, I was looking to make my first corned beef brisket to share with my two sons on St. Patrick’s day. The recipe was just published in the latest issue of Cook’s Illustrated (March/April 2016), including a 6-day brine. Unfortunately, I did not buy the special pink curing salt (sodium nitrite) in time; it needs to be purchased online. So instead, I bought one of those ubiquitous pre-packaged briskets that appear in my supermarket around St. Patrick’s day. The beef is suspiciously inexpensive; I am not sure how more than two pounds of brisket can cost a total of only $7.

Traditional St. Patrick's Date fare; at least in NYC

Traditional St. Patrick’s Date fare; at least in NYC

By starting with a pre-packaged, pre-brined brisket, I am not sure how accurate my 4-star rating can be. Of course, home-brined briskets will be far superior that my pre-packaged brisket. Never-the-less, I was happy with the overall technique used in the recipe and will try to order the curing salt well ahead of next year’s St. Patrick’s Day feast. 4-stars, but the jury is still out on the final rating of this recipe.

Comments:

  1. If you do not use pink curing salt #1,  your brisket will be grey instead of pink.
  2. While not called for in Chris Kimball’s original recipe, I caramelized some of the fat cap before cooking. It added great flavor and improved the overall texture of the fat cap.

Rating: 4-stars.
Cost: $12. (including $7 pre-packaged brisket)
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess? Medium.
Started: 4:00 pm  Ready:  7:30 pm.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. The general descriptions of how to prepare it are given below, but I did not brine by own brisket this year:

Brine Ingredients:
4-1/2-to-5 pound, flat-cut beef brisket
3/4 cup table salt
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons pink curing salt #1
3 garlic cloves, peeled
4 bay leaves
5 allspice berries
1 tablespoon peppercorns
1 tablespoon coriander seeds

  1. Trim fat on surface of brisket to 1/8 inch. Dissolve salt, brown sugar, and curing salt in 4 quarts water in large container.
  2. Add brisket, 3 garlic cloves, 4 bay leaves, 5 allspice berries, 1 tablespoon peppercorns, and 1 tablespoon coriander seeds.
  3. Weigh brisket down with plate, cover, and refrigerate for 6 days.

Cooking the Brisket:
3 garlic cloves
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoons peppercorns

  1. Set a rack to the middle of your oven and pre-heat to 275-degrees.
  2. Remove the brisket from brine and rinse under cold tap water to remove any excess salt. Use paper towels to pat dry.
  3. Brown fat-side of brisket in Dutch oven over high burner for 5 minutes until nicely caramelized.
  4. Prepare a spice bundle by cutting an 8″ square of cheesecloth. Peel 3 garlic cloves. Put garlic, 2 bay leaves and 1 tablespoon peppercorns in the center of the cheesecloth, and use kitchen twice to tie into a bundle.
  5. Add brisket, 2 quarts of water and spice bundle to a Dutch oven; it’s okay if the brisket does not lie completely flat. Cover pot and put over a high burner until it comes up to a simmer.
  6. Move to oven and bake for 2-1/2 to 3 hours, until you can easily insert a fork into the thickest part of the brisket.
  7. Remove Dutch oven from oven and turn off oven. Set brisket in a large oven-safe platter, and pour 1 cup of the cooking liquid over meat. Cover with aluminum foil and keep warm in the turned-off oven.

Vegetable Ingredients:
6 carrots
1 head green cabbage (2 pounds)
1-1/2 pounds small red potatoes

  1. Peel your carrots and cut them in half cross-wise; then slice the thick-ends in half lengthwise into long, equally thick slices. Do not peel your potatoes.
  2. Set the Dutch oven over high burner and add your carrots and potatoes. Bring up to a simmer over high burner. Reduce burner to medium-low, cover, and allow to simmer for 7 to 10 minutes until the vegetables begin to soften.
  3. Cut your cabbage through the core into 8 wedges. Add wedges to pot, and increase burner to high until the pot comes up to a simmer. Reduce burner to low and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, covered, until all the vegetables become tender.
  4. Meanwhile, set the beef on a cutting board and slice against the grain into 1/4″-thick slices, returning the slices to the platter. Use a slotted spoon to add the vegetables to the platter. Add additional broth to platter and serve.

Cabbage and Red Pepper Salad with Lime-Cumin Vinaigrette

March 19, 2016

In honor of St. Patrick’s day (or more correctly, in honor of abundant cabbage), I made this cabbage salad with red pepper. In general, I have never loved cabbage; it’s tough and bland. But this recipe conquers my two biggest complaints; first by softening the cabbage using salt; then by adding a flavorful vinaigrette. The result is a delicious salad with just the right texture; not too tough and not too soft (like boiled cabbage). Finally, something delicious to make with those 75-cent heads of cabbage. 4-star.

Sofr-as-lettuce salad made with cabbage

Soft-as-lettuce salad made with cabbage

Comments:

  1. This recipe is nearly 20-years-old, and calls for rinsing the cabbage in a strainer then drying with paper towels. Of course, in today’s kitchen it is easily accomplished using a salad spinner. I incorporated a salad spinner into the recipe below; but you can also dry using paper towels.

Rating: 4-stars.
Cost: $2.
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess? Low.
Started: 5:00 pm  Ready:  6:15 pm.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. The descriptions of how I prepared it today are given below:

1-lb green cabbage (about 1/2 medium head)
1 teaspoon table salt
1 red bell pepper
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon grated lime zest from 1 lime
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon rice vinegar or sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch cayenne pepper

  1. Cut the head of cabbage in half (save the other half for another day), then finely shred using a chef’s knife. Add shredded cabbage to a salad spinner (or colander), along with 1 teaspoon table salt. Allow cabbage to wilt for between 1 to 4 hours at room temperature.
  2. Rinse cabbage under cold running water (or in a large bowl of ice water if you plan to serve the salad immediately). Drain and spin the cabbage until dry. If the salad is for tomorrow,  store the dried cabbage in zip-lock bags overnight in your refrigerator.
  3. Cut open the bell pepper, remove the seeds and ribs. Slice into thin strips.
  4. In a medium serving bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients. Toss cabbage and red pepper until evenly covered with dressing. Adjust the seasoning with salt. Keep covered and refrigerated until ready to serve.

Beef Bourguignon

March 12, 2016

I make Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon a few times a year, her 5-star recipe is here. However, I find myself making the same substitutions, time-after- time, so wanted to discuss the changes. First, I never make her recipe using the 3-pounds of beef called for in her recipe. I always buy a 5-to-5-1/2-pound roast. If I am going to expend such an effort; it is either for a larger group of friends or I want the leftovers to last me well into the week. Second, I never blanch my lardons; and usually just use thick-cut bacon. I simply cannot but “chunk bacon” but will sometimes use salt pork. And lastly, I have yielded to Chris Kimball’s approach of using frozen pearl onions. To me, they are not important enough to worry about peeling dozens of little boiler onions. But of any adjustments I make, this laziness has the biggest negative impact.

A little more liquid would have been perfect

A little more liquid would have been perfect

While I increased the liquids to try to compensate for the 5-1/2 pounds of beef; I was still lacking liquid. Next time I will try increasing the beef broth to 3-1/2 (I had used 3-cups today). I already updated the recipe below; which not-coincidentally means that I will use the full standard 32-ounce container of beef broth (while I always make my own chicken stock, I rarely make my own beef broth). Overall, this larger batch is not quite as good as Julia Child’s original recipe. Almost as good; 4-1/2 stars.

Comments:

  1. Julia Child says to use a casserole pan, but I always use my 7-quart dutch oven.
  2. While not called for in the original recipe, I also wrap the lardons into cheese cloth before adding them back to the pot in Step 10. This saves me a huge effort in trying to pick out the lardons when discarding the spent carrots and onions.
  3. Be sure to choose and begin your side dish of boiled potatoes, mashed potatoes, buttered egg noodles or rice; start boiling the water as you begin to braise the boiler onions.

Rating: 4-1/2-stars.
Cost: $30.
How much work? High.
How big of a mess? High.
Started: 12:00 pm  Ready:  6:00 pm.

You can see a version of Julia Child’s original recipe here.  The descriptions of how I cooked it today are given below. I separated the recipe into sections so that I wouldn’t have to scroll so much while preparing the recipe.

Making the Stew:
10-oz thick-sliced bacon
5 pounds lean stewing beef, cut into 2″ cubes
2 carrot, sliced into 1/2″ wheels.
2 onion, sliced into rings.
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons flour
1-1/2 bottle red wine, young and full-bodied (like Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone or Burgundy)
3-1/2 cups brown beef stock
2 tablespoon tomato paste
3 cloves mashed garlic
1 teaspoon thyme
2 crumbled bay leaf

  1. Cut the bacon meat into lardons (sticks 1/4″ thick and 1-1/2″ long), and sauté lardons in a large Dutch oven over medium-high burner for 5 minutes until lightly browned and has rendered much of its fat. Remove bacon to a side dish with a slotted spoon, and wrap in single layer of cheese cloth (tied closed with kitchen twine).
  2. Preheat your oven to 450-degrees, and set a rack to the lower-middle of your oven.
  3. Cut beef into 2″ cubes then pat dry using paper towels; they will not brown if damp. Heat leftover bacon fat in Dutch oven until almost smoking. Add four or five beef cubes at a time. Sauté until nicely browned on all six sides, then remove and let rest in a large bowl. It will take 4 to 5 batches, between 8 to 10 minutes per batch. While the beef browns; prepare your carrots and onions.
  4. In the same fat, saute the sliced onions and carrots until slightly browned for about 5 minutes. Pour out any excess fat; of which I had none.
  5. Return the beef to the Dutch oven and toss with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
  6. Evenly sprinkle 3 tablespoons of flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly. Set Dutch oven uncovered in of preheated oven for 4 minutes.
  7. Toss the meat again and return to oven for 4 minutes (this will brown the flour and give the meat a light crust).
  8. Remove Dutch oven from oven and reduce oven temperature to 325-degrees.
  9. Stir in red wine, and 3-1/2 cups beef stock; which should barely submerge the meat.
  10. Add the 2 tablespoon tomato paste, 3 mashed garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon thyme, 2 crumbled bay leaf, and the wrapped bacon lardons (as well as the bacon rind if you have it). Bring up to a simmer on the stove-top.
  11. Cover pot and return to oven. Regulate heat so that liquid simmers very slowly for 3 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.

Brown Braising the Onions:
1-1/2 cups frozen pearl onions
1+2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 cup beef stock
Herb bouquet (4 parsley sprigs, one-half bay leaf, one-quarter teaspoon thyme, tied in cheesecloth)
1 pound mushrooms, fresh and quartered
1/4 cup of brandy

  1. About 1 hour before the meat is done, begin to heat your water for the accompaniment: potatoes, egg noodles or rice.
  2. About 30-minutes before the meat is done, begin preparing the onions and mushrooms. Assemble you herb bouquet, by adding 4 parsley sprigs, 1/2 bay leaf, 1/4 teaspoon thyme in a small square of cheesecloth and tying with kitchen twine.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon of olive oil until bubbling in a skillet.
  4. Add boiler onions and sauté over moderate heat for about 6 minutes, rolling them so they will brown as evenly as possible. They will not brown uniformly.
  5. Add 1/2-cup of beef stock, the herb bouquet, and a little salt and pepper (to taste).
  6. Cover and simmer slowly for 20 minutes; swirling occasionally; until the onions are very tender but still hold their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Discard the herb bouquet and set cooked onions aside.
  7. Wipe out skillet and heat 2 tablespoons of butter over high heat. Once the bubbling begins to subside add the quartered mushrooms. Toss and swirl pan for 4 to 5 minutes. Add 1/4 cup of brandy and flambe until flame subsides. Remove from burner and set aside.

Final assembly:

  1. After 3 to 4 hours in the oven you beef should be very tender. Pour the contents of the pot into a sieve set over a large bowl. Empty into a fat separator (or use a wide, shallow spoon to skim fat off) and allow to settle for 5 minutes.
  2. Wipe out the Dutch oven and return the beef; empty the lardon packet, then distribute the cooked boiler onions and mushrooms on top. Discard the spent carrots and whatever else is left in your sieve.
  3. De-fat the sauce into a saucepan, and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. You should have about 4 cups of sauce; about the consistency of heavy cream. If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons stock. Taste carefully for seasoning and adjust salt and pepper according to taste.
  4. Pour the thickened sauce over meat and vegetables. Cover and simmer 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times.
  5. Serve, arranging stew on a platter surrounded with boiled or mashed potatoes, buttered noodles or rice. You can also decorate with chopped parsley.

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