I continued flipping through Mastering The Art of French Cooking this weekend and found another something I wanted to try;
Boeuf À La Catalane
Beef Stew with Rice, Onions and Tomatoes
Serves 6 people
Takes about 3 hours from start to finish
Here is a hearty dish from the Spanish-Mediterranean corner of France.
¼ lb of bacon
2 TB Olive Oil
3 LB lean stewing beef cut into cubes
1 ½ cups sliced onions (1 large onion)
1 cup white rice
1 cup dry white wine
2 to 3 cups beef bouillon/stock
2 cloves mashed garlic
½ tsp thyme
Pinch of saffron
1 crumbled bay leaf
1 lb. ripe red tomatoes, peeled, seeded, juiced and chopped (1 ½ cups)
Extra bouillon as needed
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 325.
Cut the bacon into ½ inch slices and 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 3 quart oven proof casserole.
Dry the beef on paper towels. Heat the fat in the skillet until almost smoking then brown the meat a few pieces at a time. Place in when browned in the casserole.
Lower heat to moderate, and brown the onions lightly. Remove them with a slotted spoon and add to the casserole.
Still in the same fat, stir the rice over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes until it turns a milky color. Scrape into a bowl and set aside until later.
Pour any remaining fat out of the skillet, add the wine and stir for a moment over high heat to dissolve any browned bits, pour into the casserole.
Add stock almost to the height of the meat. Salt lightly. Stir in the pepper, garlic and herbs. Bring to simmer on top of the stove, cover tightly, and set on the lower rack of the oven to simmer slowly for 1 hour.
Remove casserole from oven. Stir in the tomatoes, bring to a simmer on top of the stove, cover and return to the oven for an additional hour or so of very slow simmering. When the meat is almost fork-tender, remove casserole from oven. Raise oven heat to 375.
Tilt casserole and skim off fat. You should have 2 to 2 ½ cups of liquid; add more stock if necessary. Stir in the rice. Bring to a simmer on top of the stove, cover and set again in lower third of the oven. Regulate heat to keep liquid at a full simmer for 20 minutes so the rice will cook. Do not stir the rice. Ad the end of this time it should be tender and have absorbed almost all the liquid. Remove from oven and correct seasoning.
**May be prepared in advance to this point. Set aside, cover askew. To reheat, cover casserole and place in a pan of boiling water for about half and hour.**
Just before serving, delicately fold the cheese with a fork into the hot beef and rice. Serve from the casserole or on a hot platter with green salad, french bread and a big fat red wine.
Outside of the time commitment, this was pretty easy to make. There is a great aroma that permeates your house!
Overall this was very tasty. Some changes...a little more thyme and tomatoes. No parmesan...it didn't heighten the flavors, it had a certain pungency to it, but nothing transcendent. Maybe bring the wine to 1 ½ cups of wine, instead of 1 cup, and then a touch less broth. I would finish the dish on the stove (cooking the rice) instead of the oven, a little easier to manage the cooking process. The beef was super tender and flavorful, so well worth the time. As for simmering the bacon in water. That's interesting. In Julia's book, she says she does that for American bacon because of its extra saltiness and smokiness...the simmering pulls that out. It seemed to work, but not so much that it is worth the extra step. Oh, and an extra pinch of saffron, I think I was too conservative and didn't want to use too much, but in the end, you couldn't taste the pinch I added. Bon appetite!