Before I left the house I started the Red Wine Beef Stew and put it in the crock pot to cook. I decided to rename the recipe because I've only used burgundy wine once in the 40-plus years I've been making it, and I didn't especially care for it. Any red wine works, and I use what is in the house - everything from Cabernet Sauvignon to Russian semi-sweet. We have an extraordinary supply of Russian semi-sweet reds, courtesy of one of Robert's long-time clients, who also always brings some Russian chocolates with him. Nice man. When I've had to buy wine for this, it's almost always a Merlot. Occasionally a Pinot Noir.
The timing on this really depends on the cut of meat you are using. Today I have a 2 pound piece of beef shoulder, which ranges in toughness from long-cooking stew quality to tender London broil. You will know when you press the beef in its package. This was fairly tender, so I knew I had to cut back on time. My rule of thumb - 4 hours of crock pot to each hour of conventional stove top cooking - would have had me leaving the meat in there for 6 hours. I knew that would be too much, and cut it back to 4 hours. Perfect. The house - and Robert's accounting office - smell delightful.
This recipe was cooked in a 6-quart crock pot.
6 slices bacon, cut crosswise in 1 inch pieces
2 pounds of beef shoulder, cut into 1 inch cubes
small amount extra virgin olive oil
1 large sweet onion, halved and sliced (not too thin)
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste (from tube)
2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
1 1/2 cups red wine
water to just cover the beef
2 small bay leaves
1 tablespoon reserved fat
2 tablespoons butter
3 small yellow onions, sliced into rings
8 oz. sliced white button mushrooms
In a large, deep skillet, fry the bacon until crisp; remove to paper towels and set aside.
Working in two batches, cook the beef in the hot bacon fat just until lightly browned.
Drizzle the olive oil in the bottom of the crock pot. Place the onions on top of the oil, and in order, add the garlic, tomato paste, salt, pepper, Essence, thyme, granulated garlic and granulated onion.
Then, using tongs to let excess fat drip off, add the browned beef.
Pour in the wine and just enough water to barely cover the beef. Add the bay leaves. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours or until the beef is tender (do not overcook). Discard all but 2 tablespoons of the fat in the skillet, and set the skillet aside.
Taste the cooking liquid and adjust accordingly, using 1-2 teaspoons of Wyler's instant beef bouillon, a few shots of Worcestershire sauce, and any of the original seasonings except the salt and Essence.
Melt the butter in the reserved skillet and cook the onions and mushrooms until the vegetables are tender, 10-15 minutes over medium heat.
With a slotted spoon, add the cooked onions and mushrooms to the crock pot along with the reserved bacon, stir to combine, cover and cook on low for another 30 minutes. Check your seasoning one more time and add salt if needed. You can serve the stew immediately, or refrigerate overnight and reheat for tomorrow's dinner.
The Magic won at home over the Celtics last night, breaking an 8 game losing streak. Very happy, and pleased for my boys and especially Coach Scott Skiles. They play the San Antonio Spurs tonight, which will give them a chance to start a whole new losing streak. (I'm just being realistic. The Spurs are 39-8 while the Magic are 21-25.) I know they're not playing tomorrow, at least not at home, because me and my boys are going to Amway Arena to see Barry Manilow. BARRY MANILOW!!!
I received some very sad news via Facebook this evening, just as I was getting ready to publish the post. One of the young women I worked with (she and her family relocated out of state just before she was due to deliver her second child) suffered the worst loss of all - her third child, a little girl, passed away just two days after birth. My heart is broken for this mother, her husband and their sons. Sing with the angels, Baby Karis.