My Boeuf Bourguignon Adventure

For quite some time I’ve been thinking about making the famous Boeuf Bourguignon. This Christmas I received Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” as a present from my husband and kids. I was really delighted to have this book! The first recipe I read was Boeuf Bourguignon! I was ready to take on the challenge and make this delicious dish.

Finally, about four or five weekends ago, I decided I had enough time to make it. On Saurday I only managed to make the beef stock since I was baking and didn’t finish in time to do more. So, I decided that Sunday was The Day! I woke up quite late, but managed to make it to the store, despite the ‘lake effect snow’ and the freezing winds. I bought all the missing ingredients and then I remembered that I only had white wine in the house and the recipe called for a good red wine. My problem was that you can’t buy alcohol on Sundays in Indiana. It really is nonsense, but it is a law and it supposed to be followed I guess… Sooo, determined to make the Boeuf Bourguignon THAT DAY, I got into my car and headed toward Michigan (where you can, as in any other normal place, buy alcohol on Sunday). Luckily, Michigan isn’t too far from here, just a few miles North, but the whirling snow and strong winds were starting to make this a real challenge. Oh my God, this Boeuf Bourguignon better be good!

Finally, I made it to a small liqour store just a few miles accros the Michigan State line. I thought they might not even sell any good red wines… As I was walking toward the door, in a split second my legs went under me in and I fell on my back. Ughh, #@!!& the Bouef Bourguignon! My behind was hurting soooo bad! Well, I thought since I made it this far, I might as well walk in and get the stupid wine! Amazingly, for such a small liquor shop, they had quite a nice selection of imported wines, so I decided to go for Chianti.

The drive back home was just as much fun. I could barely sit on my butt, but I was more than determined to cook this thing! As soon as I came home and started cooking, I was feeling much better ! About 5 hours later we had probably one of the top ten dishes I’ve ever had. The beef was tender, the wine sauce was superb and the whole dish was just very rich and flavorful. No regrets here!

Boeuf Bourguignon printable recipe

Boeuf Bourguignon (By Julia Child)

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 9- to 10-inch, fireproof casserole dish , 3 inches deep
  • Slotted spoon
  • 6 ounces (170 g) bacon
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil or cooking oil
  • 3 pounds (1.4 kg) 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 (700 ml) full-bodied, young red wine , such as a Chianti
  • 2 to 3 cups (500 – 700 ml) 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 rind from bacon, and cut bacon into lardons (sticks, 1/4 inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long). Simmer rind and bacon for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts of water. Drain and dry.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

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. Set casserole aside. 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. Add it to the bacon.

In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. 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. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat and return to oven for 4 minutes more. (This browns the flour and covers the meat with a light crust.) Remove casserole, and turn oven down to 325 degrees.

Stir in the wine, and enough stock or bouillon so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs, and bacon rind. Bring 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. Set them aside until needed.

Prepare onions and mushrooms

Braised onions

  • 18 – 24 peeled pearl onions
  • 1 ½ tbsp butter
  • 1 ½ tbsp oil
  • ½ cup beef stock (or bouillon, red wine or water)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 parsley sprigs
  • ½ bay leaf
  • ¼ tsp thyme

Directions:

When the butter and oil are bubbling in the skillet, add the onions andd saute over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling the onions about so they will brown evenly. Be careful not to break the skins.

Pour in the liquid and season to taste. Wrap the herbs in cheesecloth and add the herb bouquet.

Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes until the liquid has evaporated. Remove herb bouquet and serve them as they are or in another recipe.

Sautéed Mushrooms

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1tbsp oil
  • ½ lb fresh mushrooms, washed, well dried, left whole if small or quartered if large

Directions:

Place a non-stick skillet over high heat with the butter and oil. As soon as you see that the butter foam has begun to subside, indicating it is hot enough, add the mushrooms.

Toss and shake the pan for 4 – 5 minutes. During their sauté the mushrooms will at first absorb the fat. In 2 to 3 minutes the fat will reappear on their surface and the mushrooms will begin to brown.

As soon as they have brown lightly remove from the heat.

When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan. Wash out the casserole and return the beef and bacon to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms over the meat.

Skim fat off the sauce. Simmer sauce for a minute or two, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons of stock or canned bouillon. Taste carefully for seasoning. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables. Recipe may be completed in advance to this point.

For immediate serving: Covet the casserole and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times. Serve in its casserole, or arrange the stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes, noodles, or rice, and decorated with parsley.

For later serving: When cold, cover and refrigerate. About 15 to 20 minutes before serving, bring to the simmer, cover, and simmer very slowly for 10 minutes, occasionally basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce.

Bon Appetite!

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