Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Beef Bourguignon

I got a new pot! After recently cooking Poule au Pot in a poor substitute for a something that works in stove-to-oven recipes, I have been keeping an eye out for an enameled cast iron pot at TJ Maxx, and pleased to see some options from Le Creuset, Chantal, Cuisinart and others. Then came the question on size. I really didn't want to own/store two of these, especially since I've survived this long without even one, so it made sense to get a big pot that would hold a whole chicken or cook a large pot of stew. I did my research on whether it is worth it to spring the hundreds of dollars for Le Creuset (it's not) and then pulled the trigger on a beautiful green 7 1/2 qt. Chantal from their Talavera collection.

So, the night I brought this home I decided to try it out right away with a beef bourguignon. Yes, I read Julie & Julia (and no, I'm not planning to read Julie Powell's new book) and was excited to try this classic recipe for the first time.

I was surprised to discover that it isn't truly a one pot meal, as the mushrooms and onions are cooked separately and then added in at the end. Or, in the case of our family, the onions are added in and the mushrooms are served to those who like them. And, I confess I was planning to take a shortcut and purchase frozen pearl onions, but when I couldn't find any at the grocery store, I ended up buying fresh ones instead. I'm not sure how the others would have compared, but these fresh ones tasted fantastic!

And, one more snag to best laid plans... our oven died! Instead of preheating, the oven just spun the fan for a little bit and then displayed an error code. Argh! But, I felt confident in the quality of this new pot purchase and was pleased to be able to finish cooking this for the remaining few hours on the stove without any issues. Results? I thought it was fantastic. Though, the kids weren't enamored. Perhaps, Jim suggested, the full bottle of wine was a bit much for their tastes. Ah well.

Beef Bourguignon
Inspired by Julia Child

1/4 pound bacon

1 Tbsp. olive oil or cooking oil
3 1/2 pounds lean stewing beef, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
1 sliced carrot
1 sliced onion
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 cup flour
1 (750mL) bottle full-bodied, young red wine , such as a Chianti
2 to 3 cups brown beef stock or canned beef bouillon
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
3-4 parsley stems
4" section of celery stalk
1 pound small white (boiler) onions
1 pound whole or halved fresh mushrooms

 Cut bacon into lardons (sticks, 1/4 inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long) and simmer for 5 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts of water. Drain and dry.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In large Dutch oven, sauté the bacon in the oil over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon. Reheat until fat is almost smoking before you sauté the beef.

Dry the stewing beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Sauté it, a few pieces at a time, in the hot oil and bacon fat until nicely browned on all sides. Remove and put aside with the bacon.

In the same fat, brown the sliced carrots and sliced onion. Pour out the sautéing fat.

Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with the salt and pepper. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly with the flour. Allow flour to cook through.

Stir in the wine, and enough stock or bouillon so that the meat is covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs, and bacon. Make a bouquet garni by nesting thyme sprigs, parsley stems and bay leaf in celery stalk and tie with kitchen twine. Add to the pot, and bring everything to simmer on top of the stove. Then cover the casserole and set in lower third of preheated oven. Regulate heat so liquid simmers very slowly for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.
 While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms. Fill a medium pot with water an bring to boil. Saute mushrooms in wide skillet with butter and allow each side to cook undistrubed for several minutes to brown nicely. Set them aside until needed. Add the boiler onions to the boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Remove from water and remove outer skins. After mushrooms have sauteed, place peeled boiler onions in the skillet with butter and sautee on all sides to carmelize.

When the meat is tender, remove the bouquet garni from the pot. Add sauteed mushrooms and pearl onions and stir gently to combine. Serve over egg noddles or potato.

1 comment:

  1. I do something similar to this, but I make it truly a one pot.

    Brown the meat in butter and olive oil. Remove. Saute onions and garlic until tender. Pour in a bottle of wine, add bay leaves, thyme, salt and pepper. When boiling add potatoes and carrots. Place meat back in dutch oven. Cover and bake at 350 for 3 hours. In the last 30 minutes or so, I add the mushrooms.

    Sometimes, I just serve like that. If my kiddos want a thicker gravy, I strain the reduced wine and drippings (reserving veggies). Pour liquid back in dutch on stovetop. Mix in a flour/water mixture, bring to a boil, reduce heat and let thicken.

    Mine love it, but their tastes are a little more wine oriented as I use it ALL the time in cooking.

    It really is not as complicated as it sounds. I do not even look at a recipe anymore.