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Beef with Carrots Prepared the
Traditional Way
(Boeuf aux Carottes ŕ l’Ancienne)



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La Belle Cuisine


Beef with Carrots Prepared
the Traditional Way

(Boeuf aux Carottes ŕ l’Ancienne)

Parisian Home Cooking:
Conversations, Recipes, and
Tips from the Cooks and Food
Merchants of Paris

by Michael Roberts, 1999, William Morrow and Co.

“This is one of those venerable dishes for which every cook in Paris (and even
some non-cooks) seems to have his or her own ‘true’ recipe,
la véritable. I’ve
seen Parisians discuss at length various renditions of this dish as if, by revealing
its manner of preparation, a hitherto-unknown secret of the cook leaked out into
the sauce. Personally, I cook this dish a lot, and here’s what I’ve found to be helpful: Use toasted flour when thickening the broth for its nutty, caramel
flavor. Use a fruitwood-smoked bacon rather than the usual hickory-flavored
type – it tastes closer to the French
lardons. Most important, use young, sweet,
organic carrots.
For after all is said, this is but a simple dish of beef and carrots. Parsleyed
buttered egg noodles always accompany it.”

Makes 5 to 6 servings

3 bay leaves
1 bunch fresh parsley
3 sprigs fresh thyme
12 peppercorns
2 tablespoons vegetable oil,
preferably canola
2 1/2 pounds boneless chuck roast,
cut into 2 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 pound slab bacon, cut
into 3/8-inch cubes
3 medium onions, roughly diced
(about 2 1/2 cups)
1 tablespoon toasted flour *
1/4 cup brandy
3 cups dry white wine,
such as Chardonnay
1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
1 cup cold water, or to cover
1 1/2 pounds small organic
carrots, scrubbed
Freshly ground black pepper

* Astuce: Brown Roux
To get the special flavor that French stews have, use lightly toasted flour
for thickening. Place 1 cup of flour in a shallow baking dish, place in a 375-
degree F oven, and cook, stirring every 10 minutes to ensure that all the flour
toasts evenly and to break up the chunks that form. The flour is ready when
it’s a light honey color. Remove from the oven, let cool, and store in an air-
tight container as you would any flour. The flour will darken threefold when
you add butter or oil to it to make a roux. Since toasting reduces the thicken-
ing ability of the gluten, increase the amount by about 25 percent in recipes
that call for using flour to thicken a liquid.”

1. Tie up the bay leaves, parsley, thyme, and peppercorns in a piece of cheesecloth and set aside. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or heavy non-
reactive casserole over medium-high heat. Add the beef and bacon,
without crowding (add the beef in batches, if necessary), and brown
the beef on all sides, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove the beef and bacon
and set aside.
2. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the pot, add the onions,
and cook, stirring, until soft but not browned, about 5 minutes. Mix
in the flour and cook for another minute, stirring. Replace the meat,
add the brandy, and cook for a minute or so to burn off the alcohol.
Add the wine, salt, and the herb bundle. Add enough of the cold
water to barely cover the meat, reduce the heat to low, cover, and
simmer for 1 1/4 hours.
3. Add the carrots and cook until tender, another 25 to 35 minutes,
depending on their age and size.
4. Remove the stew from the heat, and remove and discard the herb
packet. Taste for salt and pepper and add as needed. Pour the stew
into a serving dish and serve.

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