I am running late this morning. I only have a few minutes to post this before I go out with the dog for her morning walk. It's not that I slept late. No, I was up at 5:30 and I got busy in the kitchen. We want to have beef braised with carrots (and onions, garlic, smoked pork lardons, herbs, and wine) for lunch, and it needs to cook for 4 or 5 hours.
Bœuf braisé aux carottes is a very simple thing to make, even if it is time-consuming. It's a French country classic. The combination of beef (or other meats) and carrots is especially good. One French friend of mine told me once that carrots impart a sweet flavor to meats they are cooked with, and I think it's true.
What I had to do first this morning was sauté the lardons. That would give me the fat I needed to sauté and "sweat" the onions, garlic, and carrots in. With all that out of the pot and set aside, it was time to brown the meat in the same flavorful fat. I did that in two batches, and I seasoned the meat as it cooked with some black pepper, red pepper flakes, and ground cloves.
Then it was just a matter of putting it all together, salting it, and transferring it to the slow-cooker to simmer until lunchtime. I added some thyme and oregano at that point, and enough rosé wine and water (equal quantities) to moisten the meat and vegetables just up to surface level. You can see it in the first picture above, which I took just as the stew was getting ready to simmer.
I think one reason dishes like bœuf braisé aux carottes, coq au vin, or blanquette de veau are so good is, in fact, because they are made with so few ingredients. The flavor of each ingredient gets a chance to shine through. Cooking them in wine doesn't hurt either...