Beef Stew (Simple-Simple)

(or Fricot di Barco)

(or Beef and Onion Ragout of the Bark Pilots of Arles)

—from Wright’s A Mediterranean Feast, 1999

The anchovy flavors add depth but not a bit of fishiness to this wonderful, simple stew. Once it’s in the pot, you can clean up the kitchen quickly, pour a martini or glass of wine, and enjoy yourself until the stew is ready. I’ve never had it fail. This stew looks rather like French onion soup, and is great served with a crusty bread.

  • big splash of olive oil
  • 2 pounds onions, chopped coarsely
  • 2 pounds beef, can be inexpensive
  • 6 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 10 anchovy filets, rinsed of salt or oil, chopped
  • salt and pepper

Put beef in freezer to make slicing easier. Chop the onions and set aside. Mash the garlic and anchovy together and set aside. Lightly oil bottom and sides of heavy-bottomed casserole or big pot. Slice the beef thinly.

Now layer these as follows: in the bottom of the pot put one-third of the onions. Cover with a layer of half the meat distributed evenly and laying flat. Spread half the anchovy-garlic mixture on the beef. Salt and pepper the layer. Put one-third of the onions next. Use the rest of the meat and anchovy-garlic paste to make another layer. Add more salt and pepper. Put the last of the onions on top of it all and salt and pepper the top. If meat is particularly lean, drizzle a bit more olive oil atop the raw stew.

Cover the stew. Do not dislodge the cover until the time is up. Set pot on a medium burner for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to very low and allow meat to simmer for 3 hours 45 minutes. Don’t remove the lid until the time is up.

Adjust the quantities allocated to each layer to add another meat/onion layer (or two) if you double the recipe.