Ragout de Boeuf aux Pois-Chiche

A tasty and economical stew, Ragout de Boeuf aux Pois-Chiche (rah-goo d’bcrf oh pwah shish) is a meal in itself although it may also be served with mashed potatoes. If you wish to prepare and cook this dish the same day, canned chick-peas may be substituted thus omitting the overnight soaking. This stew may also be cooled, chilled overnight and reheated for serving the following day.

3 slices streaky bacon, rinds removed and chopped

3 lb. lean stewing beef, cut INTO 1-inch cubes

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 large onions, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tablespoon flour

2 pints water

2 tablespoons tomato puree

12 oz. tomatoes, blanched, peeled and quartered

1 teaspoon dried basil

2 teaspoon dried chervil

2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoon black pepper

6 oz. chick-peas, soaked overnight and cooked

Preheat the oven to warm 325 ‘F (Gas Mark 3, 170°C).

Place the bacon in a large, deep frying-pan and set the pan over moderate heat. Fry the bacon for 6 to 8 minutes or until it is golden brown and has rendered most of its fat. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon from the pan and place it in a large ovenproof casserole. Set aside.

Increase the heat to moderately high and add the meat cubes to the pan, a few at a time. Fry, turning occasionally, for 4 to 5 minutes or until they are lightly and evenly browned. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the browned meat cubes to the casserole. Fry the remaining meat cubes in the same way.

Add the vegetable oil to the frying-pan. When the oil is hot, add the onions and garlic and fry them, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes or until the onions are golden brown. Reduce the heat to low and sprinkle over the flour. Stir the flour into the onion mixture to form a smooth paste and cook the mixture for 8 to 10 minutes or until the flour has become deep golden brown.

Remove the pan from the heat and gradually add the water, stirring constantly. Return the pan to the heat and bring the liquid to the boil, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom of the pan to incorporate the brown flour mix-ture. Stir in the tomato puree, tomatoes, basil, chervil, salt and pepper and bring the liquid to the boil, stirring constantly.

Remove the pan from the heat and pour the mixture into the casserole.

Cover the casserole and place it in the oven. Cook the beef for 2 hours. Add the chick-peas to the casserole and continue cooking the meat for a further 30 minutes or until it is tender when pierced with the point of a sharp knife.

Remove the casserole from the oven and serve immediatelv.

A rich, creamy seafood stew – Ragout de Fruits de Mer.

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