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Basic Boeuf en Daube

1/4 pound bacon, sliced
3 pounds beef round, cubed
2 large onions, minced
2 tablespoons Cognac
2 pounds carrots, peeled and sliced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
3 parsley sprigs
1 bay leaf
1 thyme sprig
3 cups dry red wine
1 cup beef bouillon, canned
8 small boiling potatoes, peeled

Cut bacon slices horizontally into strips about 1/4 inch by 1 inch.
In a very large, heavy skillet, saute bacon until lightly browned
but not crisp. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and reserve.

Reheat bacon fat and over high heat brown about one third of the
beef. (If beef is crowded it will release its juices and boil rather
than brown.) Remove with a slotted spoon to a large, heavy casserole
or Dutch oven and brown remaining beef in two more shifts, transferring
it to casserole when it is done. Over moderate heat saute onion
until wilted (adding additional fat or oil to skillet if necessary),
then transfer it to the casserole.

Make bouquet garni by wrapping parsley sprigs, bay leaf and thyme
in cheese cloth and tying it shut.

In a small saucepan over low heat, warm Cognac; have a long match
ready. Warm casserole over low heat. Pour Cognac into casserole,
warm for a minute, and very carefully (making sure nothing flammable
is near stove) set Cognac aflame. When flame dies down add reserved
bacon, carrots, garlic, bouquet garni, wine, and stock. Stir,
carefully season to taste with salt and pepper, cover, and simmer
very slowly (or slowly bake in oven at 250 degrees F) until beef
is very tender (2 to 2-1/2 hours).

Meanwhile, boil potatoes in salted water to cover until tender (25
to 30 minutes).

When stew is done, remove and discard bouquet garni. Degrease stew.
If desired, liquid may be poured off into a saucepan and boiled
over a high heat until reduced by half. Return liquid to stew
along with potatoes.

Correct seasonings and reheat together gently for a few minutes.
Serve stew hot in broad soup bowls. This dish can be varied from
dinner to dinner: add sauteed mushrooms, olives, or any tempting
fresh vegetable, or substitute orange juice and rum for the wine
and Cognac.

NOTES : France's wine-based beef stews are popular nearly everywhere
beef is eaten. Many variations spring from this basic version: Add
blanched vegetables of your choice just before serving; vary the
cooking liquid; or sprinkle with fresh garden herbs.


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