Sunday, January 30, 2011

Seasonal Sunday--Boeuf aux Carottes

I could never be a vegetarian for two reasons.
Beef stew reminds me of being warm and cozy, taken care of and loved. And I'm a sucker for anything with pork and beans (cassoulet, anyone?).
When we came home from the hospital with Ma Fille my mother had made beef stew and buttery, fluffy biscuits. The house was filled with the homey smell of stewed carrots and onions and slow-cooked beef. I will never forget how wonderful it was and how it tasted like love to my shell-shocked body.
When the weather is cold I love to make stew for my family. It isn't a dish you can rush and that's part of the beauty of it. You have to work slowly, trimming the meat and cutting it into bite-sized pieces, drying it with paper towels before browning in several batches and then let it all cook together for hours until you have a pot full of nourishing warmth; love in a bowl.
no longer a baby, but still likes beef stew
I'm terrible for making things in a rather haphazard way and then not remembering what I did but for this dish I've worked it out, perfected it and made it my own with a little help from Julia Child on the method. Julia does this thing with the flour that makes the meat crustily seasoned and it's worth the back and forth to do it. Trust me.

Boeuf aux Carottes or Beef Stew a la Moi
2 lbs. or 1 kilo beef stew meat
8 medium organic carrots
1 medium yellow onion
2 tbsp. flour
1 tbsp. worcestershire sauce
1 tsp ground cinnamon
4 oz. can tomato paste
beef broth
1 bay leaf
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 450F/230C.

Trim meat into bite-sized pieces and dry with paper towels before browning in olive oil in an ovenproof pot on the stove.
You will need to do this in batches so the meat will brown properly setting browned meat aside in a bowl. When you've browned all the meat, leave it aside while you prepare carrots and onion. Clean and chop carrots into coins and chop onion roughly.
Brown carrots and onion in the same pot as the meat, scraping up any beefy goodness. This will take 4 minutes or so of watchful stirring. Add in the cinnamon and worcestershire sauce, stirring to combine and browning the cinnamon a bit.

Return browned meat to the pan with the carrots and onion and stir to combine. Add in the flour, salt & pepper, stirring well. Place in the preheated oven, uncovered, for 4 minutes. (thanks, Julia) Take it out, stir it again and put it back in the oven for 4 more minutes. This is where the meat gets all crusty and seasoned so I have to insist you do it this way.

Remove from the oven and reduce oven temperature to 325F/165C.

On the stovetop again, careful the pot is hot!, stir in the beef broth until just covering the meat and carrots. Then stir in tomato paste. Bring to a simmer, put the bay leaf on top and cover and put back in the oven. This time for up to 3 hours.

The meat is done when it falls apart when pierced with a fork.

Enjoy the smell of home will it cooks away in the oven. When it's done serve with buttery mashed potatoes, biscuits or baguette and leafy, green salad. Your family will feel all melty and warm inside. And so will you.


  1. Mmm. This sounds delish. I am too lazy to brown my meat these days, I just make sure it slow cooks in the pot for four hours and it comes out yummy. I like to put a clove or two in there too, smells so good. Must try this with biscuits (as you call them, probably more a savoury scone for us), that would be a nice change from rice/pasta. Enjoy your Sunday!

  2. Mmmm: I feel all melty and warm without even smelling it. I will have to try this pretty soon. Thanks for the recipe and the tricks.

  3. When I came home with my youngest, your mother made the yummiest roast and mashed potatoes for me and it is as much a part of my M being born memories as the first time I held her. Very special. I'm going to try your recipe. It looks fab.

  4. We got buckets of snow this weekend, that beef stew would have been perfect! (I made chili... I needed a little Texas). x
    Love your new blog layout :-)

  5. Yummy! I will most definitely try out your recipe. Like arcane, I too feel all melty and warm after reading! I can even smell a faint trace ....


  6. Now that is soul food! That's a Sunday night dinner in my neck of the woods (or rather my old neck of the woods), with the smell filling the house for the entire day. My problem is, I simply have no idea how to cook for one. I learned to cook for a big group of cowboys...and I just...can't...change! Thus, my freezer door keeps popping open in protest!

  7. Yum! I love beef stem too Aiden...yes, so warm & cozy and perfect for this kind of weather. You pretty-much described my perfect meal...add a nice, solid glass of red wine & I believe I could make it through this Provencal winter :)

  8. Absolutely delicious, we had it yeasterday for dinner with some polenta.
    A success, the recipe goes into my recipes book, thank you!.

  9. Blandina,
    I'm so glad you made it and liked it! How exciting to be in your recipe book!


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