Note to Self:

(what to try, cook and experience)

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Beef Bourguignon

It's been snowing and sleeting all day.
On a Sunday.

Never on Monday, of course. No, not so classes are cancelled and I can sleep in.
And by sleep in, I mean, like 8 o'clock.

Hells bells it's cold outside.  Why not make some beef bourguignon?

Fact: Beef Bourguignon is NOT beef stew.
It's not even French beef stew.
Except that in Julia Child's cookbook, it does say "Beef Stew in Red Wine, with Bacon, Onions, and Mushrooms." 
But it's not like regular ol' beef stew. No matter what anyone says.

Fact: ZOMG it's delicious. A little labor-intensive, but worth every last minute.
Regardless of whether it's a stew or not.

You'll need a dutch oven for this, or at the very least, an oven-proof pan with a lid that you can also use on the stove top.
So like I said, a dutch oven. Unless you're me, in which case I use my giant Calphalon wok.

Yes, a wok, to make French food.  We're international on so many levels here.

This will make your entire house smell fantastic.  Which is a good thing, when it's freezing rain and sleeting, because you're not going outside anyway.

Unless you have an adorable kid, who wants to make snow roses. Then you have to go outside.
But when you come back in.... BOOM. Beef Bourguignon to warm you up.

Beef Bourguignon
adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child

8 ounces of uncooked bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
3 lbs of lean beef roast, patted dry, cubed and large pieces of fat removed
2 carrots, sliced
1 medium yellow onion, chipped
16 oz. white mushrooms, quartered
1/2 bottle of good red wine (I used a French burgundy, and mysteriously after cooking the entire bottle was empty)
3 cups beef stock
1 TB tomato paste
3 cloves garlic, smashed
fresh thyme, about 2 tsp worth
1 bay leaf
2 TB flour
Olive oil
Salt & Pepper
2 TB butter

Special: A Dutch Oven or Stove-proof Casserole Dish with Lid AND CHEESECLOTH!

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Drizzle the dish with olive oil, and heat on the stovetop at medium-high heat.  In small batches, fry up the 1 inch pieces of bacon, removing the bacon with a slotted spoon and placing onto a plate with a paper towel.  After the bacon is done, saute up the beef cubes, small batches at a time.  If you need to add a little more olive oil, go ahead.  You just need the beef to brown on all sides and then remove to the plate. In the same delicious bacon fat, saute the carrots and the onions until the onions are translucent. Remove the carrots and onions to another separate plate. Drain the fat and oil from the dish, and return the dish to the stove.  Melt the butter but do not brown; saute the mushrooms in the butter.  Remove mushrooms to the veggie plate. 
Place the beef and bacon back into the dish; toss with salt and pepper and then sprinkle lightly with the flour. 
Place the uncovered dish with the bacon and beef in the oven on the center rack and bake for 4-5 minutes.  The flour will brown and form a crust on the meat.  Carefully (!) remove the dish from the oven and return to the stove.  
Reduce the heat of the oven to 325 degrees.
Add the wine, stock, veggies, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, and tomato paste back to the dish.  The liquid should just barely cover the ingredients in the dish.  Heat the dish on the stove until simmering, then cover the dish with the lid and place in the lower third portion of the oven.

Bake for an additional 2-3 hours, until the beef falls apart when pierced with a fork.

Take your cheesecloth and lay it into a deep saucepan (leave enough of the cheesecloth overlapping the sides of the pan so you an pull the cheesecloth up.
Using the cheesecloth as a sieve, pour the contents of the casserole dish into the saucepan, so that the cloth catches all the ingredients, and the saucepan gets all the liquid. Return the liquid in the saucepan to the stove top, and heat to simmer. Skim the fat off the top of the sauce every few minutes or so. As you skim, the liquid will thicken and become more concentrated. Taste the liquid; salt and pepper as needed. 
Place the beef and ingredients in a serving dish and pour the sauce over it.
Serve with crusty bread. For sopping.

Stay warm out there!