1/01/2010

Boeuf Bourguignon

Happy New Year, 2010!  I hope everyone has had a wonderful start to the New Year and it finds you healthy, warm, happy and prosperous.  Let's face it, it HAS to be a better year than 2009, right?!?!  To begin this year on the right foot, I decided to take a risk (a lengthy, time-consuming, and labor-intensive risk) and make Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon for my husband and my parents, who were going to be visiting to bring us some items we had forgotten at their house over Christmas (my precious dSLR camera being one of them and a loaner laptop for my husband, whose laptop died on New Years eve.)

Making this was not a relaxing endeavor, by any means, but it was oh so worth it.  Rich, delicious, exquisite. Or as my husband put it "a fancy stew".  ha ha ha. Well worth the work...it's not a meal I'll be making once a week or once a month..on special occasions, this is a stunner! I served mine with some homemade No-Knead Bread and over buttered noodles.

Boeuf Bourguignon
Recipe courtesy of Knopf Doubleday Publishing Website, found in the cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck, 1961.

Ingredients
  • 6 ounces bacon
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil or cooking oil
  • 3 pounds lean stewing beef , cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1 sliced carrot
  • 1 sliced onion
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 3 cups full-bodied, young red wine, I used Pinot Noir
  • 2 to 3 cups brown beef stock or canned beef bouillon
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 cloves mashed garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • Crumbled bay leaf
  • Blanched bacon rind
  • 18 to 24 small white onions , brown-braised in stock
  • 1 pound quartered fresh mushrooms , sautéed in butter
  • Parsley sprigs

Directions
  • Remove bacon rind and cut into lardons (sticks 1/4-inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long). Simmer rind and lardons for 10 min. in 1 1/2 quarts water. Drain and dry. (I didn't do this part, I used chunked up store-bought bacon.)
  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
    Sauté lardons in 1 tbs. of the oil in a flameproof casserole over moderate heat for 2 to 3 min. to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon.
  • Dry beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Heat fat in casserole until almost smoking. Add beef, a few pieces at a time, and sauté until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the lardons.
  • In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the excess fat.
  • Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
  • Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes.
  • Toss the meat again & return to oven for 4 min. (this browns the flour and coves the meat with a light crust).
  • Remove casserole & turn oven down to 325 degrees.
  • Stir in wine and 2 to 3 c. stock, just enough so that the meat is barely covered.
  • Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs & bacon rind. Bring to a simmer on top of the stove.
  • Cover casserole & set in lower third of oven. Regulate heat so that liquid simmers very slowly for 3 to 4 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.
  • While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions & mushrooms.
  • Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons butter with one and one-half tablespoons of the oil until bubbling in a skillet.
  • Add onions and sauté over moderate heat for about 10 min., rolling them so they will brown as evenly as possible. Be careful not to break their skins (I removed the skins). You cannot expect them to brown uniformly.
  • Add 1/2 cup of the stock, salt and pepper to taste and the herb bouquet.
  • Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but hold their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Remove herb bouquet and set onions aside.
  • Wipe out skillet and heat remaining oil & butter over high heat. As soon as you see butter has begun to subside, indicating it is hot enough, add mushrooms.
  • Toss & shake pan for 4 to 5 min. As soon as they have begun to brown lightly, remove from heat.
  • When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan.
  • Wash out the casserole &d return the beef and lardons to it. Distribute the cooked onions & mushrooms on top.
  • Skim fat off sauce in saucepan. Simmer sauce for a minute or 2, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 1/2 c. of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. 
  • If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons stock. Taste carefully for seasoning.
  • Pour sauce over meat and vegetables. Cover & simmer 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times.
  • Serve in casserole, or arrange stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes, noodles or rice, and decorated with parsley.
  • If serving later, let cool and refrigerate.  Take out about 15-20 min. prior to serving, bring to a simmer, cover and slowly simmer for 10 minutes, occasionally basting meat and vegetables with sauce.  This can be made completely one day in advance.

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