Beef Stew Topped with Black Pepper Biscuit Crust
5 to 6 pounds beef for stew
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 yellow onions, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch lengths
3 to 4 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups beef stock - recipe below
1/2 cup dry red wine
Bouquet garni: 3 rosemary sprigs, 4 flat-leaf parsley sprigs, 1 bay leaf, 3 to 4 peppercorns
INGREDIENTS FOR BISCUIT CRUST
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 heaping tablespoon cracked pepper
2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
Minced fresh flat-leaf parsley for garnish (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Pat the beef cubes dry with paper towels and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- In a large Dutch oven or flameproof casserole, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat. Sear the beef cubes on all sides until nicely browned. Don’t move the meat too much in the pot; let it sear so that it develops a nice browned crust. Transfer the beef cubes to a plate. Pour off the oil from the pot.
- Return the pot to medium heat and add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Add the onions, carrots, and celery and sauté for about 3 minutes, or until the vegetables begin to soften. Add the garlic and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add the stock and wine and stir to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Return meat and any accumulated juices to the pot.
- Make a bouquet garni by tying the rosemary and parsley sprigs, bay leaf, and peppercorns in a square of cheesecloth. Put the bouquet garni in the pot.
- Cover the pot and braise in the oven for 2 hours and 15 minutes or until tender, stirring the stew several times.
- Meanwhile, make the biscuit crust: In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, sugar, cracked pepper, and salt together. Using your fingertips, a fork, or a pastry cutter, work the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
- Add the milk all at once and stir just until the dough comes together in a mass.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead 8 to 10 times, or just until cohesive. Using a rolling pin or your hands, roll or pat the dough into a circle or oval about 1/4 inch thick.
- Remove the stew from the oven, uncover, and lay the dough on top. It will not fit perfectly or seal tightly. This is a rough topping. Brush the dough with the melted butter.
- Return the stew to the oven and cook, uncovered, for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.
- To serve, remove the crust from the pan and set aside. Serve the stew with the vegetables. Cut the crust into pieces and top the meat with the crust. Ladle sauce from the stew over the crust, meat, and vegetables. Garnish with minced parsley, if desired.
To serve in 6 individual onion soup crocks or similarly sized ovenproof dishes, put the meat into the crocks with the vegetables and sauce from the stew. Increase the oven temperature to 425°F.
Make the biscuit dough and roll it into a round about 1/2 inch thick. Cut the dough into 6 rounds large enough to overlap the bowls by about 1/2 inch. Lay the rounds over the crocks and crimp the edges to seal. Brush with melted butter and set the crocks on a baking sheet. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, or until the crusts are golden brown.
1 pound meaty beef bones
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
3 carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
3 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
1 sprig each thyme, marjoram, and tarragon
1 tablespoon peppercorns
2 bay leaves
10 cups water
- Rinse the beef bones under cold water.
- In a large stockpot, heat the oil over low heat and cook the onion, carrots, and celery for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until softened but not colored. Stir in the herb sprigs, peppercorns, and bay leaves.
- Add the bones and water to the pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat and skim any foam that rises to the surface. Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently, uncovered, for 2 to 3 hours, or until flavorful.
- Strain the stock through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl. Discard the bones and vegetables. Set the bowl in a larger bowl or a sink filled with ice water to cool. When cool, cover and refrigerate until chilled. Remove the layer of congealed fat from the surface. Transfer to covered containers and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.