Start by soaking the clay pot in cold water for at least 20 minutes, then drain. Cut the garlic cloves into thin slivers. These will be inserted into the beef for added flavor.
The onion needs to be diced and a bouquet garni needs to be prepared.
What is a bouquet garni?
It is a little bundle of herbs, tied together or placed together in in a piece of cheesecloth, used to enhance the flavor of a soup or stew. The classic combination of herbs is parsley, thyme, and bay leaf.
The red bell peppers need to be halved lengthwise and seeded. Be sure to remove the ribbing.
You are going to make a thickener with the butter and flour which is called a beurre manie. It is easier to work with when the butter is soft so take out the butter now and let it sit until soft. If you have to heat it up a little in a pan or in the microwave.
We should be ready to go now.
Using a paring knife, make a bunch of small incisions throughput the meat and insert the garlic slivers into them. Season the meat with salt and pepper on all sides.
clay pot cookingHeat a large heavy bottomed pan over medium high heat, add the oil and let it get hot. You want the oil to heat up just to the point of smoking. No more.
Now add the beef and brown on all sides. Remove it from the pan and set aside uncovered.
Add the onion to the pan and saute the onions until golden. Remove the onions from the pan and transfer to the clay pot.
Put the beef on top of the onions and get the beef stock ready. You do this by combining the stock, tomato puree and wine together in a bowl and then pour it over the beef in the clay pot.
Add the bouquet garni to the clay pot, cover and place in the COLD oven. We don't want to preheat the oven when using a clay pot. Remember, a cold clay pot does not do well with extreme temperature changes.
Crank up the oven to 400 degrees F and cook for 1 hour. Now it's time to remove the cover from the clay pot, baste, add the bell pepper halves and continue cooking Uncovered for about 45 minutes or until the beef is tender.
Making the Sauce
Remove the meat, peppers and onions from the pot and reserve them on a large serving dish. Pour off the liquids from the clay pot into a sauce pan and heat over medium heat. This one-pan cooking just turned into three pans. You can always use the pan you browned the meat in but I think it is better to work in a sauce pan.
Blend together the flour and butter in a small dish to make a paste. Slowly and in small spoonfuls, add the flour butter combination to the reserved liquid. What we are trying to do is thicken the sauce.
Raise the heat to medium high and bring the sauce to a boil. Immediately lower the heat and simmer the sauce until it is thick enough to coat a spoon. Be sure to stir or whisk the sauce during the process or it will burn.
When the sauce is at the consistency to your liking, pour it into gravy boat and serve it with the beef.
In our house, we like to plate the food before serving it to our guests. This way we have better control of the portions and everyone is sure to get an equal amount. And if it just so happens I make a mistake and don't prepare enough of one ingredient, I can fix it by distributing it as best I can.