This recipe was submitted by my friend, and North Woods Ranch fan. Thank you, Janine!
Have these kitchen tools ready:
Large frying pan, on med-high heat (I like cast iron)
Food processor (to avoid so much chopping)
3 oz Prosciutto or 4 pieces bacon
1 large sweet onion, chopped
salt and pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
1.5 cups chopped mushrooms (crimini or baby bella)
2 carrots, chopped
2 lbs Stew Beef
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup red wine, plus one tablespoon
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons brandy
1.5 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons fresh or dried parsley
3 oz tomato paste
1 bay leaf
In food processor, process 6 slices (about 3 ounces) of prosciutto or bacon. (I always have this in the house and seldom have bacon. Use bacon if you have…but I like the prosciutto better.) Sauté in 1 teaspoon of oil using large frying pan on medium heat. When beginning to crisp, add to crock pot. In processor, rough-chop (use pulse) 1 large sweet onion. Sauté in 1 teaspoon of oil and 1 teaspoon of butter, seasoning with salt and pepper. In processor, mince 3 cloves garlic. Add to onions. Let brown. In processor, rough-chop mushrooms (I like crimini or baby bella). Scoop onions/garlic out of fry pan and dump in crock pot. Put mushrooms in fry pan with another teaspoon of oil. In processor, rough-chop two carrots. Add to crock pot. When mushrooms begin to take on color, transfer to crock pot.
On cutting board, season 2 lb. stew beef with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with enough flour to coat/toss (a 1/2 cup?). Add another teaspoon of oil into pan and add half the beef and brown for a few min on all sides. Add to crock pot. Repeat with 2nd half of beef.
While meat is browning, to crock add: 1/2 C chicken broth, 2 tablespoons brandy (I keep a small bottle of Christian Brother's on hand—not good enough to drink…but good enough to use in cooking—just a couple of tablespoons makes a big difference in soups, stews, and even French toast), 1.5 teaspoons dried thyme, a bit of fresh or dried parsley, 3 oz (1/2 small can) tomato paste, bay leaf. Stir. Add meat to crock.
Lastly, add 1/2 C red wine to deglaze and scrape up any browned bits, pour into crockpot. Stir again. Cover and follow crockpot's time/instructions for stew. About an hour before it's done, brighten and freshen with 1 Tablespoon of red wine. Stir, re-lid, and cook till done! :)
"No…not quite as good as Julia's, but it's a nice way to have dinner mess done and cleaned up in the morning!" ~ Janine