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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Ragoût Français

So, this is really like most of my other "British" style stews.  I'm not sure why I'm calling it 'French' nor even if the French typically do many stews. They must, mustn't they?

Really, it's just that this particular iteration of 'stew' has a fair bit of French FLAVOURS in it.  

Des saveurs Françaises... si tu veux.

Namely shallots,   

and a generous allotment of Brandy.  :)

But I also made up a really large bouquet garni consisting of such typical herbs as rosemary, sage, and fennel, but I also snuck in some bay, parsley, and carrot tops.  

That's a large bouquet garni!

Also I used green peppercorns rather than black, and heirloom carrots rather than standard garden carrots.  

And... something really special... some l'huile de truffe.

Other than the flavouring, this is essentially the same as every one of my other (seemingly yearly) stews.  So I won't go into it a whole lot, but rather just skim over the production relatively quickly.

Browning the beef is always the first step, and involves cubing some cheap cut, coating it in flour, and then searing it on high heat for a brief length of time.

For large amounts of beef, searing in batches is recommended, and carefully removing and setting aside those pieces that are done.

You can see that these pieces, while delightfully browned on the outside, are still really rare (and bloody) on the inside.  That's the trick to a good stew!

Almost all of the rich dark brown flavour in a stew comes from that, and to no small amount, from the leftover gribblies in the pan.

Look at all that flavour.

So, we need to de-glaze the pan, scraping all that good stuff into the sauce.

Any liquid will do, stock, consommé, jus, wine, port, even water.  But... I had a jar of beef stock from a roast I made almost a year ago.

Complete with chunks of solidified fat at the top of it!  YUM!

Anyway, after that gets whisked and scraped about in the bottom of my pot, you can see that most of the gribblies have become incorporated into the sauce.

Now it's just a matter of dunking everything in.

The beef, the carrots, the potatoes 

Some garlic and some onion

And three shallots, all puréed first.

So, once all that is added, and the spices and the bouquet garni is added and stirred around, I put the lid on the pot and let it simmer for the afternoon.

Periodically I would add a bit of brandy, but otherwise this just blipped away for about 6 hours.

Just prior to serving it up, I took out the bouquet garni, put it aside in a large bowl for a few minutes to cool down.

Once cooled, I gently wrung it out, being careful to save as much of the liquid as possible.

That, of course, gets stirred back into the stew!

About a half-hour later, out comes the ladle, and we serve up a couple of piping hot bowls of stew!

Absolument parfait sur un soir plein froid comme celui-ci!