When the temperature drops and you can see your breathe in the air, it is time for warm, slow cooked foods. Nothing warms my tummy or soul more. Hearty stews, simmering soups, and spicy chili all make me smile – as much to make them as when eating them! I love throwing a bunch of ingredients in a pot and walking away, letting it simmer on the stove or in the oven for hours until meltingly tender and rich. And if you add wine, it mellows during cooking, blending with the other ingredients, adding a hint of sophistication.
Beef Bourguignon (boorg-in-yo-n) is a fancy French name for Beef with Burgundy wine. The original recipes are labor intensive and time-consuming. This version from the wonderful chef Natalie Dupree, takes half the time and effort, but gives you all the rich flavor. Because Burgundy can sometimes be challenging to find in America, you can substitute Pinot Noir or a light Merlot. If you are serving people who prefer not to have alcohol, you can replace the wine with half water and half additional stock.
Originally a peasant dish, Beef Bourguignon is now found on menus at the world’s finest restaurants. Slow-cooking methods were developed to tenderize tougher cuts of meat. You can save money and make an incredibly flavorful meal for your family. One of the tricks is to keep the heat low and never get the cooking liquid hotter than a simmer. A few hours later and the meat will melt in your mouth.
To replicate the original method of larding the meat with fats, you start this stew by rendering the fat from bacon. This adds a depth of flavor and richness that makes it luscious. You can skip this step if you want, but I urge you to make it at least once with the bacon so you can experience the richness it adds!
This looks like it is going to be a long, cold winter, and having recipes like this one will certainly make it a lot more enjoyable! Happy December everyone!!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
When you are adding wine to cooked foods, always use a wine that you would enjoy drinking. Products called “Cooking Wine” are foul tasting and will taint your final dish. I prefer to use the same wine to cook with that I will be serving at dinner. That way I always know they will be complementary!
Boeuf a la Bourguignon
Modified recipe from Nathalie Dupree
Yield: 6 servings
3 oz fat bacon, cut into small pieces (or about 3 tbsp vegetable oil)
2-1/2 lb thick cut beef chuck for braising, cut in 2-inch squares
2 onions, sliced lengthwise (from pole to pole, not around the equator)
2 tbsp flour
2 to 3 cups of Burgundy wine (or other dry red wine)
2 to 3 cups good quality beef stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Bouquet garni of bay leaf, stalk of celery, parsley, and thyme, tied with kitchen twine or wrapped in cheesecloth
2 garlic cloves, crushed with salt
12 to 18 small white pearl onions, peeled and brown-braised in stock (see recipe below)
1/2 lb quartered small mushrooms, sautéed in butter
Croutons of fried French bread dipped in finely chopped parsley
Saute the bacon (or heat oil) in a heavy Dutch oven over medium-high heat until brown. While the bacon is cooking, pat the meat completely dry with paper towels. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon and reserve. Add the meat to the hot pan and brown, a few pieces at a time. Browning the meat adds rich flavor and color to your dish. As the meat browns transfer it to a bowl set by the stove. When all the meat is browned, set it aside, add the sliced onions to the pan, and allow them to brown very slowly in the remaining drippings.
Remove the onions. If you have no more drippings, add a little oil. You should have about 2 tbsp fat. Add the flour off the heat, stirring until smooth and lump-free, and then return to the heat for a few moments. When you have a well-combined roux, remove from the heat again, and stir in the wine and the stock, whisking until smooth. Return to the heat and stir until boiling. Add the meat, bacon, sliced onions, seasonings, vegetables, and garlic. Bring back to a simmer.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 325ºF.
Transfer to the oven and simmer slowly until tender, about 3 to 4 hours. Meanwhile prepare onions, mushrooms, and croutons. When the meat is tender, add the onions and mushrooms and reheat briefly.
Skim the fat off the sauce. Remove the solids and reserve. Simmer the sauce, skimming additional fat as it rises, until the sauce thickens and coats a spoon lightly. If it is bit too thin, boil it down rapidly. Taste and adjust seasonings. Arrange meat, mushrooms, and onions on a plate and cover with sauce carefully. Garnish with parsley croutons and serve.
- You can use frozen pearl onions to save time (they are already peeled!). Thaw and brown lightly in a little butter, then add some beef stock and simmer until warmed through.
- Make your own croutons: Cut crusts off half a loaf of rustic bread. Cut into 1-inch cubes, drizzle with a little olive oil, and sprinkle with salt. Bake in a 350°F oven for about 10 minutes or until lightly golden brown and crunchy. While hot, you can sprinkle them with very finely chopped fresh Italian parsley if you like.
- Serve over buttered eggs noodles, mashed, boiled, or roasted potatoes, or cooked rice to soak up all the delicious sauce!
Brown Braised Onions
from Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”
18 to 24 peeled white onions, about 1 inch in diameter
1-1/2 tbsp butter
1-1/2 tbsp canola oil
1/2 cup brown stock or beef bouillon
Salt and pepper to taste
Herb bouquet: 4 parsley sprigs, 2 thyme sprigs, 1 small bay leaf, tied together with twine
Heat butter and oil in 9 to 10 inch sauté pan over medium heat. When bubbling, add the onions and sauté for about 10 minutes, rolling the onions around the pan so they will brown as evenly as possible. Be careful not to break their skins, but don’t expect to brown them uniformly.
When browned, pour in the stock or bouillon, season to taste, and add the herb bouquet. Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but retain their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Remove the herb bouquet.
Roll the hot onions around in a tablespoon of softened butter, if desired. Sprinkle with parsley.
Unauthorized use, distribution, and/or duplication of proprietary material without prior approval is prohibited. I can be contacted via email at: heritagecook (at) comcast (dot) net. Feel free to quote me, just give credit where credit is due, link to the recipe, and please send people to my website, www.theheritagecook.com.