Beef Stew with Rice, Onions, and Tomatoes [Boeuf À La Catalane]: Test Kitchen Tuesday

Yesterday was the birthday of the late, great, culinary icon Julia Child, so it seemed only fitting to include a recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking for Test Kitchen Tuesday.  It has been a delight to glean from her style and expertise in this two-volume set—I wholeheartedly relate to her affinity for butter and cream. In honor of her birthday, HuffPost Food compiled clips from The French Chef, Julia Child & Company and Julia & Jacques: Cooking at Home—you’ll want to check it out and reminisce.

Beef Stew with Rice, Onions, and Tomatoes [Boeuf À La Catalane] is described in the book as a hearty dish from the Spanish-Mediterranean corner of France.  I have included some of the detail of the instructions, simply to honor Julia’s style and original voice, but have adjusted for American bacon, canned tomatoes (unless you have a garden or a nearby farmers market), and the fact that a Dutch oven will work just fine in lieu of a casserole.  Mine is in the oven right now and the aroma is divine!

I hope you join me in this delicious adventure!

In the next week or so:

1.  Make the recipe (posted below)
2.  Leave a comment describing your experience, opinion, adjustments, or suggestions.  ♥ If you do focus on altering it to economize, choose healthier ingredients or techniques, make it gluten-free/allergy sensitive, embellish for entertaining, or incorporate into batch/once-a-month cooking, please mention that too.
3.  Subscribe to comments so you can see what others have done.
4.  If you are especially proud of your creation, send a photo to savoringtoday@comcast.net, or include a link to your site with your comment.

Beef Stew with Rice, Onions, and Tomatoes (Boeuf A La Catalane)

Source: Mastering the Art of French Cooking Vol I, by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck — Copyright: 2001 by Alfred A. Knopf
Serves 6
1/4       pound  chunk of bacon
2         tablespoons  olive oil
3         pounds  lean stewing beef — cut into squares 2 1/2″ across and 1″ thick
1 1/2    cups  onions — sliced
1         cup  raw white rice — unwashed
1         cup  dry white wine or dry vermouth
2         cups  beef stock or canned beef bouillon
salt to taste
1/4       teaspoon  pepper
2         cloves  garlic — mashed
1/2        teaspoon  thyme
Pinch   saffron
1          bay leaf — crumbled
1          pound  tomatoes — peeled, seeded, juiced, and chopped –
(about 1 1/2 cups pulp)
1          cup  Swiss cheese or Parmesan cheese — grated

Preheat oven to 325°

“Remove rind and cut bacon into lardons (1 1/2-inch strips, 3/8 of an inch thick.) Simmer in 1 quart of water for 10 minutes. Drain, dry, and brown lightly in oil in the skillet. Remove with a slotted spoon to the casserole.”–Julia

Since bacon in America is smoked, you may not want to lose that flavor by simmering it in water first, but you certainly can. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat and lightly brown the bacon. Remove from the pot and transfer to a platter, set aside.

Dry the meat so it will brown well. Lightly salt and pepper the meat.  Brown the meat on all sides in the rendered bacon fat. Once browned, place it on the platter with the bacon, and set aside.

Lower heat to medium-low, and brown the onions. Remove and transfer to the platter with the meat, and set aside.  Add additional oil to the Dutch oven if too dry and cook the rice over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes until it turns milky in color. Transfer to a separate bowl and set aside until later.

Add the wine and stir over medium heat to dissolve any fond in the pan. Return the meat and onions to the pan and add stock or bouillon almost to the height of the meat.  Stir in the pepper, garlic, and herbs. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, cover tightly, and set in lower position of preheated oven for 1 hour.

Remove casserole from oven. Stir in the tomatoes, bring to a simmer, cover, and return to the oven for an additional hour of simmering. When the meat is almost fork tender, remove pot from oven. Raise oven heat to 375°.

Skim off any excess fat. Stir in the rice. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, cover, and set back in the oven for 20 minutes until the rice is cooked. Do not stir the rice. At the end of the time it should be tender and have absorbed almost all the liquid.  Just before serving, fold the cheese into the beef and rice.

Shared on the following Blog Hops:
The Nourishing Gourmet Pennywise Platter Thursday

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7 Responses to Beef Stew with Rice, Onions, and Tomatoes [Boeuf À La Catalane]: Test Kitchen Tuesday

  1. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide August 17, 2011 at 6:52 am #

    Such a classic and one I still need to try. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. Judy August 17, 2011 at 8:56 am #

    This is one tasty meal, great comfort food. I used a bison pot roast, which was tender and delicious. I liked the idea of the Swiss cheese so much, rather than stir it in, sprinkled it on top to highlight the texture of the melted cheese. I decided to add an orange bell pepper and downplay the rice since I was serving it with a sweet potato, which got some of the Swiss cheese too.
    A wonderful meal!
    Here’s my adjustments:
    Ingredients:
    1. Great Range Bison Pot Roast
    2. added 1 orange bell pepper, chopped
    3. reduced rice to 1/2 cup brown rice
    4. used 1 1/2 cups Lucini Tuscan Harvest Plum Tomatoes, crushed by hand

    Directions:
    I don’t know that the extra step of adding the tomatoes an hour into the cooking process is necessary, though I did do that this time. When I make this again, I plan to add the tomatoes along with the wine and stock to save this step, similar to the way Osso Buco is prepared.

  3. rsmacaalay August 17, 2011 at 12:28 pm #

    Looks so flavourful, what a great stew. What is that on the side, looks like some sort of squash?

    • Judy August 17, 2011 at 1:49 pm #

      It is a baked sweet potato with just a little butter, salt, pepper, and a sprinkle of Swiss cheese–very simple, yet delish!

  4. Christina August 20, 2011 at 8:53 pm #

    This stew looks delicious! W are coming into fall pretty soon which means lots of comforting soups and stews. I can’t wait to give this one a try! :)

  5. Rug Cleaning Los Angeles August 24, 2011 at 2:02 pm #

    This recipe gets me so excited for fall! I can’t wait to make it on a dreary day :D

    • Judy August 25, 2011 at 7:15 am #

      Oh, it is a lovely, comforting dish on a rainy day, hope you enjoy it.

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