Boeuf en Daube en Casserole (Beef Stew with a Pastry Crust)
This is the second meal that Sylvie prepares for the “Opera Ghost”. Unsure of how her tagine had gone over, she decided to fall back on a classic French beef dish. Essentially a rich beef stew with a pastry crust, it’s perfect for warming the cockles on a cold evening. In truth, Sylvie would likely have made a more basic pie crust for her casserole, rather than the puff pastry used here. There is no denying, however, the ease and lusciousness of good quality frozen puff pastry. Of course, she could have just popped down to the patisserie for some.
Directions: Put the flour, salt and pepper in a large plastic zip-lock bag, and shake to combine. Add the cubed beef and shake in the bag to coat evenly in the flour. Remove the beef, shaking off excess flour, and transfer to a large dutch oven over medium-high heat to which 3 tablespoons of olive oil have been added and heated. Add beef in batches to avoid overcrowding, and brown on all sides. Add more oil if needed. Meanwhile,
preheat the oven to 3500 F.
Remove the beef from the pot and set aside. Add 2 more tablespoons of oil, and add the onion slices, sautéing until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the vinegar, sauté for 3 more minutes, then add the sliced carrots. Sauté until they begin to soften, and add the minced garlic. After 1 minute, add the stock, wine, tomato paste and thyme, and bring to a boil. Return the beef to the pot and stir to combine.
Cover the pot, place in the preheated oven, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 1-1/2 hours. Add the new potato chunks and cook until they are almost tender, about 30 minutes more. Remove from the oven and stir in the chopped parsley. Taste and adjust seasoning, and increase oven temperature to 4000 F.
Have ready 6 2-cup capacity ramekins or other oven-proof baking dishes. Roll out the puff pastry into 2 12- inch- by -14- inch rectangles, and cut out 6 rounds, making sure to make them an inch wider around than the tops of the ramekins you are using. Divide the stew between the ramekins, and press a pastry lid over each ramekin, pressing down around the rims to seal. Brush each pastry lid with the egg and water mixture, place on a baking sheet, and bake until the pastry is puffed and golden-brown, 20-25 minutes. Serve at once, with a green salad.