Catalan Beef Stew

Beef Stew with Rice, Onions, and Tomatoes (Boeuf A La Catalane)

Source: Mastering the Art of French Cooking Vol I, by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck — Copyright: 2001 by Alfred A. Knopf
Serves 6
1/4       pound  chunk of bacon

2         tablespoons  olive oil
3         pounds  lean stewing beef — cut into squares 2 1/2″ across and 1″ thick
1 1/2    cups  onions — sliced
1         cup  raw white rice — unwashed
1         cup  dry white wine or dry vermouth
2         cups  beef stock or canned beef bouillon

salt to taste
1/4       teaspoon  pepper
2         cloves  garlic — mashed
1/2        teaspoon  thyme
Pinch   saffron
1          bay leaf — crumbled
1          pound  tomatoes — peeled, seeded, juiced, and chopped –
(about 1 1/2 cups pulp)
1          cup  Swiss cheese or Parmesan cheese — grated

Preheat oven to 325°

Remove rind and cut bacon into lardons (1 1/2-inch strips, 3/8 of an inch thick.) Simmer in 1 quart of water for 10 minutes. Drain, dry, and brown lightly in oil in the skillet. Remove with a slotted spoon to a Dutch Oven.

Dry the meat on paper towels. Lightly salt and pepper the meat.  Brown the meat on all sides in the rendered bacon fat. Once browned, place it in the Dutch Oven.

Lower heat to medium-low, and brown the onions. Place in Dutch Oven.  Add additional oil to the skillet if too dry and cook the rice over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes until it turns milky in color. Transfer to a bowl and set aside until later.

Add the wine and stir over medium heat to dissolve any fond in the pan. Add stock or bouillon almost to the height of the meat in the Dutch Oven.  Stir in the pepper, garlic, and herbs. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, cover tightly, and set in lower position of preheated oven for 1 hour.

Remove casserole from oven. Stir in the tomatoes, bring to a simmer, cover, and return to the oven for an additional hour of simmering. When the meat is almost fork-tender, remove pot from oven. Raise oven heat to 375°.

Skim off any excess fat. Stir in the rice. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, cover, and set back in the oven for 20 minutes until the rice is cooked. Do not stir the rice. At the end of the time it should be tender and have absorbed almost all the liquid.  Just before serving, fold the cheese into the beef and rice. Adjust seasonings as needed.

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