Combine porcini mushrooms and 1 cup boiling water in a small bowl; let stand 30 minutes. Drain mushrooms through a sieve into a bowl, reserving liquid. Chop mushrooms; set aside.
Sprinkle beef with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add half of beef to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until lightly browned on all sides. Remove beef from pan with a slotted spoon; place in a bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining beef.
Add onions to pan; sauté 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Add cremini mushrooms and carrot; sauté 3 minutes or until mushrooms are tender. Add beef, porcini mushrooms, porcini liquid, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, broth, and next 4 ingredients (through bay leaves); bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 1/2 hours or until beef is tender. Uncover and cook 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Combine 1 tablespoon water and cornstarch in a small bowl. Add cornstarch mixture to pan; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute or until liquid thickens. Discard thyme sprigs and bay leaves.
Wine note: Mushrooms and merlot are a natural match. An affordable California version like Buena Vista Carneros Merlot 2004 ($20) provides classic merlot flavors of plum and black cherry fruit along with a touch of earth and smoky oak that marries beautifully with mushrooms. The wine's rich flavor and firm tannins make it a perfect choice for flavorful beef, as well. --Jeffery Lindenmuth
Have made this many times over the years; a family weekend staple in the fall/winter months. Tonight I used dried shiitake mushrooms (what I had on hand) and it was fine. We don't like squishy carrots, so I added them the last half hour. And it definitely takes more cornstarch at the end; I double that at least. A keeper. Though a bit time consuming.
Made to recipe one day prior to serving with one big change and a few minor. The big one was to dice & fry two bacon slices & reserve to add at the last 20min (c. 25 calories per slice) & sub 2tbs of bacon fat for the olive oil. Used frozen pearl onions and removed the thyme sprigs & bay leaves prior to thickening. Subbed a flour/water slurry for cornstarch (just a personal preference). Very good.
Delicious! though it took some time, the prep was easy. And the smell in my house while it was simmering was worth waiting to see if the taste matched-oh, and it was! Even got the green light from my hubby who thinks there is no such thing as Cooking Light!!
Loved this recipe. I have tried a number of beef stew/goulash type recipes and this is by far the best. I added more veggies as suggested previously and used dried thyme instead of fresh. I will definitely make this again.
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