Thursday, September 16, 2010

Delicious Beef and Mushroom Stew

We had a fabulously warm summer here in Toronto, then whammo, the temperature plummets and it's suddenly Autumn. So not only is it time to start thinking about packing away summer clothes, but it may also be time to start thinking about wearing socks and sweaters. Okay, it's not winter yet, but if I tell you about this recipe, maybe I'll feel warmer — it's one of my favourite winter recipes — Beef and Mushroom Stew. A few years ago, my neighbours Clarke and Dorothea made a delicious beef dish using very special forest mushrooms that had been brought over by Angela, Dorothea's sister, who was visiting from Germany.

Needless to say, it was a very special meal and one that I tried over and over to reproduce. I don't have access to the German 'mushroom underground', but I do know that my Beef and Mushroom Stew is one of my absolute favourite winter dishes. I often serve it on a bed of wide egg noodles that have been tossed with some butter, crushed caraway seeds and chopped parsley. Schmeckt gut!

Beef and Mushroom Stew

1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp olive oil
2 slices bacon, finely chopped
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, peeled and sliced into thick coins
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
1 bay leaf
2 tsp dried thyme or 3 sprigs fresh
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 cup flour
2 lb stewing beef
1/2 cup red wine
2 cups chicken stock
1-1/2 cups peeled white pearl or cipollini onions
1/2 lb button mushrooms, cleaned and left whole
1 cup sour cream (not low fat)
2 tbsp fresh flat leaf italian parsley, chopped for garnish

In a large cooking pot over medium heat, melt butter and oil. Add bacon pieces and cook, stirring often until bacon starts to brown. Add onion, garlic, carrots, celery, worcestershire sauce, herbs and spices, and cook, stirring often, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes.

Pat beef cubes dry with a paper towel, then dredge in flour until cubes are evenly coated. Increase the heat under the cooking pot to medium-high and cook beef, adding a few pieces at a time, letting pieces brown before adding new ones. When all the beef cubes have browned, add wine to pan and cook for 1 minute, stirring and scraping up any brown bits on bottom of pan. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to low, partially cover pot, and let simmer for 1 hour. Stir in pearl or cipollini onions, and continue to cook on low heat, partially covered for another hour. Remove pot lid and add mushrooms; simmer for 30 minutes. Beef should be very tender. Just before serving, remove pot from heat, remove bay leaf and stir in sour cream and parsley, then return the pot to the heat and gently heat through, not allowing it to boil.

Serve with wide egg noodles tossed with butter, crushed caraway seeds and parsley.

Serves 6-8

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