BeefStew with Rice, Onions, and Tomatoes

This is an oldfamily favorite, adapted, or adopted, in the sixties from Masteringthe Art of French Cooking,vol.1, by Beck, Bertholle and Child.  Boeufà la Catalane is ahearty dish from southwestern France best accompanied by a green salad, Frenchbread, and a strong, young red wine. (Tosee a close relative of this dish, made with veal, double click here onVealand Rice Casserole.)

Preheat oven to 325°F. (163°C.) 

1/4-lb. chunk ofbacon*        

2 tablespoons oliveoil
3 lbs. lean stewing beef cut into cubes 2 ½-inches across and1inch thick       
1 1/2 cups sliced onions               

1 cup clean, unwashed, raw white rice   
1 cup dry white wine or dry white vermouth
2 to 3 cups beef stock or cannedbeef bouillon  
Salt to taste
¼teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 cloves mashed garlic
¼-to- ½ teaspoonsaffron threads, freshly ground in a mortar and pestle

½ teaspoon thyme**

1 crumbled bay leaf**  
1 pound ripe, red tomatoes, peeled, seeded, juiced, and chopped  
             (about1½ cups tomato pulp; using 1½ cupsof canned
             tomatoes is fine)

1 cup (4 ounces) freshly gratedParmesan cheese       

Remove rind from the chunk ofbacon and cut bacon into strips, 1/2–by- 1/8 of an inch thick. Simmer bacon strips in 1 quart of water for 10 minutes. Drain, dry, and brown lightly in oil in a heavy,10-inch skillet          
(*Alternatively, buy a one-pound package of bacon strips; cut one-quarter of thestrips into one-inch lengths. Save balance of package for another dinner. Skip the simmering step if short on time and simply brown the baconwithout adding any oil to the browning skillet.)
Remove browned bacon pieces with a slotted spoon to a 3-quart fireproofcasserole, about 3 inches deep.

Dry the meat on paper towels. Nowadd two tablespoons oil and heat together with any remaining fat in skilletuntil almost smoking, then brown the meat a few pieces at a time. Whenbrowned, add it to the bacon in the casserole.
Lower heat to moderate, and brown the onions lightly.
Remove them with a slotted spoon and add to the meat in the casserole.
Still in the same fat, stir the rice over moderate heat for 2 to 3minutes until it turns a milky color. Scrape into a bowl and set aside untillater.
Pour any remaining fat out of the skillet, add the white vermouth or wine and stir for a moment over heat to dissolve coagulated cookingjuices. Pour into the casserole.
Add stock or bouillon almost to theheight of the meat. Salt lightly. Stir in the pepper, garlic, freshly groundsaffron, thyme and crumbled bay leaf. (**Can use a good bouquet garni–about 1 ½ teaspoonsful — instead of the thyme and bay leaf if you prefer.)

Bring to simmer on top of the stove, cover tightly, and set in lower position ofpreheated oven to simmer slowly for I hour.

Remove casserole from oven. Stir in the tomatoes; bring to simmer on topof the stove, cover, and return to theoven for an additional 1 ½-to-2-hours of very slow simmering. When the meat isalmost .fork-tender, remove casserole from oven. Raise oven heat to 375°F. (190°C.)
Tilt casserole and skim off fat. You should have 2 to 2 ½cups of liquid; add more stock or canned bouillon, or water, if necessary. Stir in the sautéed rice. Bring to simmer on top of stove, cover, andset again in lower third of oven. Regulate heat to keep liquid at a full simmerfor 20 minutes so the rice will cook. Do not stir the rice. At the end of thistime it should be tender and have absorbed almost all the liquid. Remove fromoven and correct seasoning.  
Just before serving use fold the grated Parmesan cheese into the hot beef andrice. Serve from the casserole.

Yield: Serves6

This recipe has been kitchen tested.

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