5 Boeuf Bourguignon - At Last

Friday, May 14, 2010

I fear this recipe has taken  longer to blog about than the actual making of it.  I've put it off no longer.  I give you Boeuf Bourguignon, a la Julia Child.  It is amazing.  And spellbinding.  And extremely time-consuming.  If you love someone, make this.  Also, you have to say it in a very Frenchy way, and then your guests will know you really mean business!  (BTW, watch for my mish-mash of pictures...I found some I took months ago that fill in gaps that I forgot to take during this most recent foray.  Oops.)

Okay, *deep breaths*  here we go.

6 oz of good quality thick-cut bacon
3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
3 pounds lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 bag of baby carrots (not the really thin ones, though)
1 onion, diced
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons flour
3 cups red wine, young and full-bodied (like Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone or Burgundy)
2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups brown beef stock
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2-3 cloves crushed garlic
1 teaspoon thyme
A crumbled bay leaf
*****************
18 to 24 pearl onions
3 1/2 tablespoons butter
bouquet garni (4 parsley sprigs, one-half bay leaf, one-quarter teaspoon thyme, tied in cheesecloth or coffee filter if you wish, but you can just add the herbs straight to the pan if you want)
1 pound mushrooms, fresh and quartered (any kind)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

You're going to want to do this in a large lidded stove-to-oven casserole dish, pan or pot, like a Le Creuset French oven, or even a deep sautee pan like the one I'm using in these pictures.  My French oven isn't big enough for the amount I am making (boo hoo, one day, one day.)

The original recipe calls for blanching the bacon rind.  You can do it that way by removing the bacon rind and cutting it into lardons (sticks 1/4-inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long). Simmer the rind and lardons for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts water. Drain and dry, and then brown lightly.  OR you can do like me and take the shortcut. Just get some good quality thick-sliced bacon, fry it up, (but don't crisp it) and reserve all the bacon by removing it with a slotted spoon, and leave the rendered bacon fat. Slice up the cooked bacon into 1/4 inch pieces.

Next, dry the stew beef in paper towels very well (don't skip this part, browning will be hard to achieve.) Heat bacon 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 bowl with the sliced bacon (okay, my bacon is still sitting on the paper towel, but whatever works.)

In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables.
Pour out the excess fat, and remove veggies to a second bowl.

Return the beef and bacon to the casserole/oven dish and toss with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and 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 and return to oven for 4 minutes more (this browns the flour and coves the meat with a light crust).

Remove casserole and turn oven down to 325 degrees.  Stir in the wine and 2 to 3 cups stock, just enough so that the meat is barely covered.

Add the veggies, tomato paste, garlic, and herbs. Bring to a simmer on top of the stove.

Cover casserole/pan/pot and 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 and 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 minutes, rolling them so they will brown as evenly as possible.
...almost there...

Add 1/2 cup of the stock, salt and pepper to taste and the herbs (the thyme is absolutely essential to the flavor, don't skip it.)

Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but hold their shape, and the most of the liquid has evaporated. Set onions aside.  There!  See how the sauce has thickened to almost a caramel consistency?

Wipe out skillet and heat remaining oil and butter over high heat. When it's well heated (but not smoking!), add the mushrooms.

Toss and shake pan for 4 to 5 minutes. As soon as they have begun to brown lightly, remove from heat.  You can now combine it with the cooked onions, and keep warm in a serving dish on the side.

When the meat is tender after 3-4 hours, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan.


Wash out the casserole and return the beef and veggies that are in the sieve to it. 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 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 stock. Taste carefully for seasoning.

Pour sauce over meat and vegetables. Cover and simmer 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times.  Serve in casserole, or arrange beef and veggies on a platter.

Serve with a yummy green veg like these balsamic roasted Brussels sprouts and the delicious Dijon fingerling potatoes I posted the other day.



Enjoy!
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5 comments:

lavenderdiva said...

That's a masterpiece! AND it looks absolutely delicious- including the brussels sprouts!!

4get2remember said...

It's 8am where I live and my mouth is watering! This is such a great blog!

Emily said...

Thank you! This recipe is so worth the time and effort, Everyone should try making this at least once!

Melissa said...

That looks DELICIOUS!!! I can't imagine spending so much time on it...maybe someday. I'm still recovering from my forray into making from-scratch French Onion Soup. Goodness, I didn't think it was ever going to be done. I have too many kids to be tied to the kitchen for meals that need to be babysat like that. Some day. Some day!! :)

Blessed Beyond Measure x2 said...

Loved Julie and Julia and knew that one day I needed to make Boeuf Bourguignon, a la Julia Child. Thanks for posting great in-depth pictures and instructions. My sister is coming to my home this summmer while the rest of my family is out of town. This recipe screams "girls dinner party". THANKS!

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