By the time you read this, I will likely be back home, but right now, I’m packing my bags and leaving for Paris with my daughter. I’ve been studying French for close to a year and I’m ready to try out my skills during my week in the Latin Quarter. I’ll still be writing the paper (or you wouldn’t be reading this) but it will be on a beautiful balcony overlooking the streets of Paris.
Naturally, I’m in a French mood and channeling some (sort of) Julia Child. Plan this meal for two days ahead as it has to marinate overnight, then cool overnight after it’s cooked.
5 pounds beef short ribs, cut into 2 1/2-inch pieces
9 carrots—5 cut into 2-inch pieces, 4 cut into 1-inch rounds
5 celery ribs, cut into 2-inch pieces
5 medium onions, quartered
10 garlic cloves
One 750-milliliter bottle dry red wine
Freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 cups beef stock
1 pound bacon—half cut into small dice, half cut into 2-inch pieces
3 bay leaves tied with 15 thyme sprigs
2 pounds stemmed button mushrooms
Chopped flat-leaf parsley or thyme, for garnish
In a 2-gallon resealable plastic bag, add the beef, 2-inch carrot pieces, celery, onions, garlic and red wine and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat the oven to 300°. Strain the beef and vegetables over a bowl; reserve the wine.
Separate the meat from the vegetables. Pat the meat dry and season with salt and pepper.
In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the olive oil. In batches, sear the meat over high heat until browned on all sides, 30 minutes; transfer the meat to a bowl as you go.
Reduce the heat to moderate, add the marinated vegetables and cook until softened, 8 minutes.
Add the reserved wine, stock, large bacon pieces, herb bundle and meat along with any juices; bring to a simmer.
Braise the stew in the oven for 3 1/2 hours, until the meat is tender. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat and bacon to a bowl. Strain the liquid, discarding the solids.
Wipe out the casserole. Add the diced bacon and crisp over moderately high heat, 10 minutes; transfer to paper towels.
Working in batches, add the mushrooms to the casserole and cook until golden, 8 minutes per batch. Add the mushrooms to the meat.
Add the carrot rounds and braising liquid to the pot and simmer until the liquid is reduced by one-third. Add the meat, bacon slices and diced, mushrooms; simmer until the sauce reduces slightly. Season with salt and pepper and let cool. Refrigerate overnight.
Skim the fat from the stew and reheat. Garnish with parsley or thyme and serve alone or over mashed potatoes.
Remember to use a good wine to cook with (though not as pricey as the one you might serve with it, like the Domaine Chevillon Chezeaux at right). Mediocre wine leads to a mediocre dish.