So, like probably every food blogger on the planet, I made Boeuf Bourguignon last night. It was for my birthday dinner with friends, and we had some great french onion soup planned, so that seemed like an appropriate main dish. We also watched Julie and Julia, while it cooked. A great evening, and a fantastic dish. I actually did a double batch, for 12 people, so the amounts you will see are doubled. It’s not an extremely difficult dish, exactly, it’s just a very LONG one.
First, preheat the oven to 450°F, then you need to take 6 ounces of bacon and remove the hard rind. I’m honestly not sure this actually matters unless you’re getting unchopped bulk bacon, so use your discretion. Then chop the bacon into lardons, which are sticks 1/4 inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long.
Blanch the bacon and rind (I used two separate pots because you use them in different ways) in boiling water for 10 minutes. Drain and dry the bacon.
Saute the bacon (the recipe says in 1 tbsp of oil, but it’s BACON, I don’t see a need for MORE fat. Unless it’s butter. Butter rules.) Cook a few minutes until lightly browned, then use a slotted spoon to remove to a side dish.
Reheat until the fat is almost smoking before browning the beef. Now, the beef needs to be DRY, so it browns properly. Pat pieces dry with a paper towel, and you’ll probably have to cook it in batches so as not to overcrowd your pan. Mine took 4 batches, so yours will probably take 2, for a normal recipe.
Remove the beef to the side dish with the bacon in it, then brown the sliced vegetables in the remaining fat.
Once the vegetables are cooked, pour out any remaining fat. Do your best to get most of the liquid out, then return the beef and bacon to the casserole. Don’t add any of the drained liquid sitting in the side dish, we want the casserole to be relatively dry for the next step. Season with salt and pepper, then sprinkle the flour on the meat and vegetables, and toss to coat.
Put the casserole uncovered in the middle position of the preheated oven for 4 minutes, toss the meat and return to the oven for another 4 minutes. Remove the casserole, and turn the oven down to 325°F. This should have added a nice brown crust to the beef.
Stir in the wine, then add enough beef stock so the meat is barely covered. Add tomato paste, garlic, herbs, and bacon rind (if you ended up cutting it off).
Bring it to a simmer on the top of the stove, then cover and put in the lower third of the oven. Regulate the heat so it simmers slowly for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.
While the meat (and vegetables) cook, make up the brown braised pearl onions and sauteed mushrooms.
For the mushrooms, quarter or slice, then heat some butter and oil in a skillet on high heat. As soon as the butter foam subsides, that indicates the oil is hot enough. Add the mushrooms, and toss or shake for 4-5 minutes. At first they may absorb all of the fat, but if they do the fat will reappear on their surface in 2-3 minutes.
The onions are a little more complicated. First, blanch them by putting them in boiling water for a minute, then into a bowl of ice water. This should make it much easier to remove the skins, which will save you a lot of effort since there are quite a few of them.
Once they’re peeled, add some oil and butter to a skillet on medium heat. When the fat is bubbling, add the onions and cook about 10 minutes until browned evenly all around.
Then add some beef stock and an herb boquet of parsley sprigs, bay leaf, and thyme.
Cover, and simmer 40 minutes until all of the liquid has evaporated. Remove the herb boquet.
Then go watch a movie while everything else cooks. Julie and Julia works well here, but I’m not going to insist. You should, though.
When the meat is done, pour the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan to separate the sauce from the meat. The recipe says to wash out the casserole, but I’m just not that picky about appearances. Return the beef, bacon, and vegetables to the casserole, and add your mushrooms and onions as well.
Skim the fat off of the sauce, and simmer for a few minutes, skimming off additional fat as it rises. If the stock doesn’t coat the back of a spoon lightly, boil it down rapidly until it does. If it’s too thick, mix in a few tablespoons of stock. Taste for seasoning, then pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables.
To serve, cover the casserole and simmer a few minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times. Serve surrounded by potatoes, over mashed potatoes, or egg noodles.
Boeuf Bourguignon by Julia Child
- 9- to 10-inch, fireproof casserole dish , 3 inches deep
- Slotted spoon
- 6 ounces bacon
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil or cooking oil
- 3 pounds 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 full-bodied, young red wine , such as a Chianti
- 2 to 3 cups 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
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.
When the melt 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: Cover 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.
Heat 2 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp oil in a skillet on high heat. As soon as the butter foam subsides, indicating it is hot enough, add mushrooms. Toss or shake for 4-5 minutes. At first they will absorb all of the fat, but it will reappear on their surface in 2-3 minutes.
Add 1 1/2 tbsp each oil and butter to a skillet on medium heat. When bubbling, add the onions and cook 10 minutes, rolling them so they brown evenly. Then pour in 1/2 cup beef stock and add in a herb bouquet of 4 parsley sprigs, 1/2 bay leaf, and 1/4 tsp thyme, cover, and simmer 40 minutes until all liquid has evaporated. Remove herb boquet.