Thursday, March 3, 2011

Menu for 3/3/2011 - Boeuf Bourguignon (Dude2)

* We are happy to have shared this post at Fight Back Fridays at Food Renegade and at Friday Potluck at EKat's Kitchen *

This is one of my family's all-time favorites, coming from Mastering the Art of French Cooking (with a few minor changes).  The richness of the sauce and the tenderness of the meat, combined with the fact that this recipe makes enough for four nights of dinners, makes this meal a real winner.  Our favorite accompaniment is simple steamed broccoli, tossed with fresh grated parmesan cheese.

This recipe seems to have an (undeserved, I think) reputation for being difficult for those who haven't done it.  For me, the only part I actually dread about making this is cutting up the Giant Chuck Roast that I got when I got my beef:

As far as actual labor goes, this is by far the most challenging and time consuming part (each of those is over two pounds, and they have sneaky bits of bone in strange places).  If you buy precut stew meat, or have the butcher deal with it for you, then this recipe is really no big deal!

Boeuf Bourguignon (serves 12 at my house, adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking):
  1. 8 oz bacon, unsliced
  2. 4-5 lbs chuck roast, cubed in 1.5 to 2 inch pieces (whatever you can manage)
  3. 3 carrots, cut into sticks (quartered lengthwise) about 2 inches long
  4. 1 white onion, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  5. 2 Tbsp organic whole wheat flour
  6. 4 cups dry red wine
  7. 4 cups organic brown beef stock
  8. a couple of squares of bacon rind, if you have it
  9. a few inches of orange peel (you can use the confit from last night's recipe)
  10. 1 cup diced organic tomatoes
  11. 5 cloves minced garlic
  12. several sprigs fresh thyme
  13. 2 bay leaves (crumble if they are dry, otherwise leave them whole)
  14. about 20 small onions.  White are best, but any color will work
  15. 1 lb. quartered fresh mushrooms
When I buy bacon, I buy a whole side.  Usually I will have them slice half of it and give me the other half unsliced.  I then take it home and cut it into pieces of approximately 4 oz. each:

Bacon is easiest to cut when it's semi-frozen, so I'd recommend taking it out of the freezer, letting it warm up for about 5 minutes, then cutting it into lardons (bacon sticks about 1/4 inch wide and 1-1/2 inches long):


Toss the bacon in your largest, heaviest skillet and start it frying over medium heat.  While that happens, cut up your beef.  If you're as slow as me, this will take all of the time available from the frying bacon and then some, so don't forget to stir the bacon occasionally:

When your bacon is nicely browned and has rendered much of its fat, transfer it to the casserole where you will make the stew.

Now take your cubed beef, in batches, and brown it thoroughly over high heat.  It's hard to overdo this part, so don't be shy.  I let mine go for several minutes per side (just top and bottom) on high heat:

Your beef should be at least as dark as that in the picture below.  When it gets to where you want it, pick it out of the pan, drain the fat back into the pan, and transfer the meat to the casserole with the bacon so you can do the next batch.  It takes me three batches to do this with my 14" cast iron skillet:

When you've got all the beef taken care of, add the flour to the casserole and stir it around a bit to coat the meat.  Add the stock, wine, thyme, bay leaves, salt, bacon rind, garlic, tomatoes, mushrooms, and orange peel and turn on the heat.

Using any remaining fat in the pan, saute the sliced onion and carrot.  The juices released in this process will help deglaze the pan and pick up little bits of flavorful meat that was stuck there.

When the carrot and onion are browned around the edges and getting tender, add them to the casserole and finish deglazing the pan with a ladle full of the juices from the casserole (dump it back in the casserole when the pan is done).  At this point, you are done messing with the casserole until the end, so just let it simmer slowly to soften the meat and blend the flavors.  I leave it covered until the last half hour or so, then uncover it so that it reduces somewhat and concentrates the flavors more:


It's now time to get the glazed onions started. The little white boiler onions are the best for this (not pearl onions, they're too small).  My grocer doesn't generally have much of a selection in this area though, so I take what I can get.  In this case, it's red boilers.  Peel all of them and start them browning in a mix of about one Tbsp each butter and olive oil.  You can peel these guys in a number of ways, but I find that the simple approach of using a sharp paring knife is the fastest when you get the hang of it.  If you don't want to do that, try blanching them in boiling water for about 30 seconds.  That softens the papery part of the skin and makes it come off more easily, but on my stove it takes longer to get the water boiling than it takes me to peel the onions by hand!

Here are the onions just after going into the butter and olive oil:

And here's what they look like when they're somewhat browned.  You can go darker than this as well, if you have the time:

Now take a ladle of the juices from the casserole and dump it in with the onions, then when it's done bubbling dramatically reduce the heat to low, cover,  and let it simmer for a good 45 minutes.  During this time you will need to check about once every 15 minutes to make sure there's enough liquid -- add more juices when it gets low.

Here are the onions when they are done glazing:

Warning: those onions are like candy, so if you eat one you will probably eat all of them, and then you won't have any for the stew!  Now all you need is to steam up some broccoli, and right before you're ready to eat stir the onions and every drop of their delicious sauce into the stew.

Bon Apetit!

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