French Beef Stew with Quatre Epices

French Beef Stew with Quatre Epices

Serves 4

Ingredients List
- 1.25 lb beef stew meat (ideally 1" cubes)
- 7 oz bacon, diced
- 5 carrots, cut into 1-inch slices
- 10 small shallots, peeled
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- 5 cups beef or vegetable broth
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 3 tbsp flour
- Salt to taste
- 1 tbsp of Bucks Quatre Épices spice blend
- 2 cups broth (beef preferred, but any will do)
- 1/2 bottle of inexpensive dry red wine
- Optional for more flavor: 1 lb mushrooms, sliced (if desired)
- Olive oil or cooking oil
- chopped parsley for garnish

- Serve with boiled or mashed potatoes, gnocchi, or thick noodles

Step-by-Step Instructions:

1. Prep the meat and vegetables: Roll and coat the beef with the Quatre Épices spice blend 
2. In a large pot or Dutch oven, cook the bacon over medium-high heat until browned, about 3 minutes per side. Remove the bacon and set aside, leaving the fat in the pan.
3. If the bacon fat is insufficient or if you're using mushrooms, add a splash of oil to the pot. Increase the heat to high and brown the beef stew meat in a single layer for approximately 2 minutes per side (8-10 minutes total).
4. Add the shallots and crushed garlic to the pot with the beef. Cook for 5 minutes or until softened.
5. Sprinkle the flour over the beef and vegetable mixture, stirring to mix in.  Cook for a few minutes to create a roux (helps thicken the sauce)
6. Reduce heat to medium. Add the carrots and cooked bacon back into the pot. If using mushrooms, add them at this point.
7. Stir in the tomato paste and slowly pour in the wine and broth, stirring continuously. Make sure to scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan for added flavor.
8. Bring the stew to a gentle boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover the pan and simmer the stew for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. The stew should slowly thicken and the beef become tender.
9. If using, stir in the sliced mushrooms during the last 5 minutes of cooking for additional flavor and texture.
10. Taste the stew and adjust seasoning with more salt and/or the Quatre Épices spice blend if needed.
11. Serve in bowls with a side of your choice, such as potato croquettes, dumplings, or thick noodles. Optionally garnish with chopped parsley.
12. Enjoy hot, preferably with crusty bread to mop up the delicious stew.

Remember, this recipe is customizable. You can use more or less broth, add red wine for depth of flavor, or even stir in heavy cream at the end for a richer stew. Adjust the recipe to your preferences and dietary needs.

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