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2 – 2 1/2 pounds beef stew meat (Julia would use a good chuck or top blade, but use whatever cut you desire that still has a good fat content.), cut into 1 1/2- inch cubes*
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
canola oil for browning the meat
2- 1/2 cups red wine (Use a good medium to full-bodied red wine. DO NOT use cooking wine found on the grocery shelf.)
2 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2-3 tablespoons butter (real, of course)
18-20 small white onions, peeled and trimmed
1 pound whole baby Portobello mushrooms
Fresh thyme leaves or Italian parsley leaves for garnish
Add the wine and butter to the skillet and stir over medium heat, scraping the bottom to get the browned bits. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until it begins to thicken. Add the bay leaves, garlic, ground cloves and thyme sprigs. Pour the liquid mixture over the beef in the slow cooker. (You can prepare everything up to this point the night before if you desire.)
Cover and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours, or until the meat is very tender.
About 1 1/2 hours before serving, sauté the onions in about 1 tablespoon of canola oil for 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently. They should be lightly browned. Add them to the stew at least 1 hour before serving.
About 45 minutes before serving, sauté the mushrooms for 5 – 8 minutes, or until they are lightly browned. Add them to the stew 30 minutes before serving. Remove the bay leaves and the thyme sprigs.
Taste and adjust the seasonings. Garnish with fresh thyme leaves. This is good served over noodles or potatoes.
Can’t you just smell it already?