Recipe by Rene Herbeck, executive chef, Au Revoir Bistro
My dad was in the Foreign Legion and when he was in Vietnam, he met my mother. I was born there and lived in Vietnam until we moved to France when I was 11. Vietnam still gives me a good memory and a taste for it, too. Even now, I marry and combine French and Vietnamese cooking, like the way I cook chicken with lemongrass.
Growing up, I was always in the kitchen with my cousin. One day she asked me, “Rene, why don’t you try pastry?” The reason why is because I do not like my fingers so sticky with all of that sugar. A pastry chef is more of a chemist while a chef is more spontaneous, like me. I tend to say, “Sure, why not?” I used to fly a helicopter, so you can see how I am.
After cooking school I worked in Monte Carlo and London. My dream was to work for a three-star Michelin restaurant and I did. But when I heard of a restaurant looking for chefs in San Diego, I interviewed and loved it. The weather here is similar to Nice. My cooking has evolved since I moved to San Diego because cooking is so applicable to the location where you are working. I am happy in San Diego. America is mine now.
What do I eat when I am not working? Last night I nibbled at work a bit and then went to a Vietnamese restaurant for a bowl of pho. It’s different than what I offer to my guests, which is classic French food, like boeuf bourguignon, which I also love very much.
- Bouquet garni
- 2 large green leek leaves (about 6 inches long)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 stalk celery
- 2 sprigs fresh parsley, with stems
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 2-inch-long strip tangerine or orange peel
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided use
- 2 ounces pancetta or bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 3 pounds beef stew meat, such as chuck, trimmed and cut into 1- to 1 1/2-inch pieces
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
- 2 medium yellow or red onions, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 1/2 pounds carrots, peeled and sliced into 1-inch rounds
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 pound button mushrooms, halved if small, quartered if large
- 1 bottle (750 ml) full-bodied red wine, such as Burgundy or Pinot Noir
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
- Freshly grated zest of 1 tangerine or orange
HOW TO DO IT
Preheat oven to 250°F.
To assemble bouquet garni: Place one leek leaf on the counter. Top with bay leaf, celery stalk, parsley sprigs, thyme sprigs, and tangerine (or orange) peel. Place the second leek leaf on top and tie the bundle together in four spots with kitchen string. Set aside.
To prepare stew: Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add pancetta (or bacon) and cook until barely brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate, leaving any drippings in the pot. Add beef in batches (do not crowd the pot) and cook until browned on all sides. Transfer to a large bowl and season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
Add 1 tablespoon oil to the pot and add onions and garlic. Stir until the onions are translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add carrots and stir until they begin to soften, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste. Season with the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Transfer the mixture to the bowl with the beef.
Reduce heat to medium and add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pot. Add mushrooms and stir occasionally, until they are tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl; set aside.
Pour wine into the pot and bring to a boil. Scrape up any browned bits. Return the browned beef, the carrot mixture, and the reserved pancetta (or bacon) to the pot along with the bouquet garni. Press down on the beef and vegetables, making sure to submerge them completely in the wine; if necessary, add just enough hot water to make sure they are covered. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the pot and press it directly on top of the stew, covering it completely.
Transfer the stew to the oven and cook, with the lid off, until the beef is tender enough to cut with a fork (about 3 hours). Check every hour to be sure the ingredients stay submerged in liquid during the entire cooking time. If too much wine evaporates, add a little hot water to make up for the loss. During the last 15 minutes of cooking, stir in the reserved mushrooms.
Remove and discard the bouquet garni. Combine chopped parsley and tangerine (or orange) zest in a small bowl and scatter on top of the stew just before serving.