While onions are not readily available at farmers markets in November, leeks certainly are. By the way, if you garden, now is the tail-end of the planting season for onions. You can buy a bunch of 25-50 onion starts for about $5 in Upstate California farmers markets in October and the beginning of November.
Last weekend I found huge leeks at one of the stalls. So this week we used one of them in a stew-like dish: Braised Beef with Leeks. This is basically my own creation, inspired, I suppose, by an episode of No Reservations in which Anthony Bourdain demonstrates Boeuf Bourguignon.
This is a slow-cooked beef dish in which the leeks cook down and, along with chicken broth and wine, create a sweet sauce for the beef. We like it served over cornbread.
Our What's in Season Now Page has been updated with November's list.
Braised Beef with Leeks
Inspired by Anthony Bourdain
Serves 6. Make ahead: Step 1 can be completed up to 1 day ahead of time. Or Steps 1 & 2 can be completed up to a day ahead of time. Store tightly covered in non-reactive dish in refrigerator overnight. Return to dutch oven and reheat over medium heat. Garnish and serve.
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 lbs good quality beef stew meat
1 lb leeks, the white and light green parts only, cleaned and trimmed, and halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2 inch slices.
2 tablespoons flour
2 large carrots, cut into large chunks
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup inexpensive red wine (We used $2 Buck Chuck Shiraz)
Whatever herbs you have available: 2 bay leaves, a sprig of thyme, a sprig of rosemary (or similar amounts of dried herbs)
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley or 1 cup green peas
1. Season beef generously with kosher salt and pepper. In large dutch oven over medium high heat, brown the meat. You may need to do this in two batches. Don't attempt to cook it thoroughly, just get most sides brown. Remove meat to a plate. Set aside. Add prepared leeks (and a little more oil if the pan is dry), a dash of kosher salt, and cook over medium heat 5-10 minutes, to brown slightly.
2. Preheat oven to 300º. Return meat to pan. Toss leeks and beef with flour. Cook about one minute. Add carrots, broth and wine and herbs (but not parsley). Bring to a boil. Stir. Cover with lid and cook in 300º oven 2 hours.
3. Taste and adjust seasoning. Remove bay leaves and any herb stems. Add peas, stir and let sit to heat through. Or skip the peas and simply garnish with parsley. Serve over freshly baked cornbread.