"Thyme" for Beef Stew

The nights are turning crisp, the heat is kicking on at 5 a.m., and the thyme in our garden has never been better. This richly-seasoned beef stew is authentically French, more of a Boeuf Bourginon, and straight from Ron's mom, our favorite French cook.

The stew's complex flavors come from the layering of deeply browned beef (the first step in creating a fond) rich red Burgundy wine, spices, sautéed mushrooms, and -- of course -- butter.  Serve over buttered egg noodles with a salad and you have a meal fit for a "roi"!

2 lbs. lean beef chuck cubes
1 large or 2 medium sweet onions, sliced
3-4 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
Butter and extra-virgin olive oi
Salt and pepper to taste
Slurry of 2-3 tbsp. flour + 1/4 c. hot water
1 lb. sliced mushrooms
1 lb. carrots cut into 1-1/2" slices
2 tsp. fresh thyme
1 package frozen peas or 1/2 lb. fresh peas, hulled
1/2 - 1 cup red Burgundy wine (or any good French or Italian red wine)(Remember, cook only with wine that you would drink.)

In sauté pan, sauté mushrooms in 1 tbsp. butter with 1 tbsp. olive oil until deeply browned and they have given up all of their water. Salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

In dutch oven large enough to fit entire stew, brown beef cubes in 1 tbsp. olive oil and 1 tbsp. butter until well-browned.  Remove beef and set aside.  Add onions and garlic, more olive oil if necessary, and sauté until wilted and soft.

Make a slurry out of 2-3 tbsp. flour and hot water. Add to onions, deglaze pot, stir well to combine, and add 1/4 c. red wine. Let simmer about 10 minutes, adding water if necessary.

Return meat to pot.  Add mushrooms, carrots, fresh thyme, another 1/4 cup red wine, salt and pepper to taste, and lower heat.

Simmer for 40 minutes to 1 hour, stirring frequently and adding wine as needed.  After one hour, add peas, simmer for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare egg noodles and serve.

Note: You can substitute lamb for beef. Choose a tougher cut (a loin chop with bone in works really well), and add four Idaho potatoes, cut into 1-1/2" cubes, at the same time you add the carrots.  Mmmm. Your house will never smell so good!

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