But would it work with the ultimate stew – the famous Julia Child Boeuf Bourguignon?
I did all the chopping and frying in the morning, turned on the crockpot and went to a friend’s house for the afternoon. When I got back in the early evening, I fried some mushrooms and added them to the pot and got the potatoes roasting. Other than that supper was labour free.
60 g streaky bacon
450 g stewing steak, cut into cubes
1 small carrot, sliced
1/2 onion, sliced
salt & black pepper
10 g plain flour
230 ml red wine (Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone, Burgundy, Chianti)
130 ml beef stock
2 tsp tomato paste
1 clove garlic, pressed
1/4-1/2 tsp thyme
1 bay leaf
150 g button mushrooms
Cut the bacon into lardons. Simmer rind and bacon for 10 minutes in water. Drain and dry. Preheat oven to 230C.
In a frying pan, sauté the bacon in oil over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon. Leave frying pan aside. Reheat until fat is almost smoking before you sauté the beef.
Dry the beef; it will not brown if it is damp. Sauté it, a few pieces at the time, in the hot oil and bacon fat until nicely brown on all sides. Add it to the bacon.
In the same fat, brown the sliced carrot and onion. Place the bacon, meat, carrots and onions in the slow cooker pot and toss with salt and pepper. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly with the flour. Place casserole uncovered in the middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat and return to oven for 4 minutes more. (This browns the flour and covers the meat with a light crust.) Remove casserole and turn the oven off.
Stir in the wine, and enough stock so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic and herbs. Turn the slow cooker on low heat and leave it for 5 hours.
Before serving, fry the mushrooms. Place a frying pan over a high heat with some butter and oil. As soon as you see that the butter foam hasbegun to subside, indicating that it is hot enough, add the mushrooms (washed, well dried, left whole if small, sliced or quartered if large). Toss and shake the pan for 4 to 5 minutes. During this the mushrooms will first absorb the fat. In 2 to 3 minutes the fat will reappear on their surface, and the mushrooms will begin to brown. As soon as they have browned lightly, remove from the heat.
If the sauce is too thick, remove the meat and add some stock. Check the seasoning. Put the meat back. Add the mushrooms and heat up. If the sauce is not thick enough, remove the meat and reduce the juices. Check seasoning, put the mat back, add the mushrooms and warm up to serve. The sauce should be thick enough to coat a spoon lightly.