Now everyone, in a very thick French accent say "Boeuf Bourguignon". This last Christmas I received a gift that I have been wanting for awhile, and that is Julia Child's "The Art of French Cooking". I watched Julia Child when I was a child and one of my favorite movies is actually "Julie and Julia". I just think it was a super cute movie based on a real people and hello... it is about food!
When I opened the wrapping paper to my thick book, I immediately knew I needed to try my hand at the famous peasant dish. I call it a peasant dish because that is what it originated as way way way back in time. It hails from the Burgundy region in France. This dish is traditionally cooked in red wine, it was to help tenderize tough cuts of meat, hence the peasant dish name because the tough cuts was all they could afford.
Over time this dish has been elevated and embraced in the finest French restaurants. It has become a well know dish, people often rave and rant about the complexities of flavour. There are quite a few layers to this dish that just makes it so much different then your average "stew". This is considered a stew but it is not your everyday average stew, it's just that much better.
When I sought out to make this dish I bought all the ingredients needed, then the day of I started pulling everything out of the fridge and realized the bacon I bought I forgot and used for BLT's. So sheer panic I searched in my freezer and thankfully found prosciutto, which I thought to myself why not! It is a cured meat like bacon, has plenty of fat on it, it just is thinner then bacon. Well I didn't really notice a difference, it tasted amazing and I actually really liked the little bits of prosciutto in it. I will have to make it with actual bacon the next time to compare the difference.
I will warn you there are quite a few steps but it is so worth it in the end. I decided to serve mine with mashed potatoes and Yorkshire puddings, traditionally it is served with boiled potatoes. It can be served with buttered noodles, rice, or even peas. I actually loved it with the potatoes and Yorkshires, but any excuse to eat those golden delicious things I will take.
6 ounces of bacon, or in my case prosciutto
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
3 pounds of lean stewing beef, cut into 2 inch cubes
1 large carrot, peeled and sliced into chunks
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of ground black pepper
2 tablespoons of flour
3 cups of red wine, full bodied young, or dealcoholized red wine
2 to 3 cups of beef stock
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
2 cloves of garlic minced
1/2 teaspoon of thyme
1 bay leaf crumbled
1 batch of brown braised onions (recipe follows)
1 batch of sauteed mushrooms (recipe follows)
Preheat oven to 450F.
Cut bacon up into smaller pieces, about 1 inch thick. In a non stick enamel casserole dish, or dutch oven, saute bacon in the olive oil over a medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes. You want the bacon to brown lightly. With a slotted spoon remove the bacon and set aside.
Reheat the fat until it is almost smoking. Take beef chunks and pat dry so that there is no moisture on the outside. If the meat is damp it will not brown up nicely in the pan. Take the beef and place it in the pan, it will be crazy hot and you might need to cook it in batches. Cook each piece on all sides until it has a nice brown sear, it will take about 30 to 60 seconds on each side. Place the beef off to the side with the bacon pieces.
In the same fat saute the carrots and onions, cook them until they are slightly browned. Pour out the sauteing fat.
Return the beef and bacon, toss with the salt and pepper. Sprinkle on the flour and toss all the pieces around so they have an even coat of flour on them. With the oven rack on the middle setting place the casserole dish in the oven and cook for 4 minutes. Remove from the oven and toss the meat around and then place it back in to the oven for another 4 minutes. Remove from the oven and turn the oven down to 325F.
Stir in the wine and enough beef stock to barely cover the beef. Add the tomato paste and spices. Bring to a simmer on top of the stove. Once simmering cover with the lid and place in the oven. Make sure the oven rack is now on the third level of the oven this will help moderate heat.
Cook for 2 1/2 to 3 hours and once you can pierce the beef with a fork and it is super tender and the sauce has thickened it is ready to eat.
While the beef is cooking:
Prepare the mushrooms and onions.
18 to 24 peeled white pearl onions
1 1/2 tablespoons of butter
1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 cup of beef stock
salt and pepper
a herb bouquet of parsley sprigs, bay leaf, and 1/2 teaspoon of thyme tied in a small cheese cloth.
In a non stick skillet add butter and oil on a medium heat. When bubbling add the onions and saute over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Move the onions around so they brown evenly and be careful not to break the skin.
Add the rest of the ingredients and cover with a lid and turn the heat down to a simmer. Cook for 40 to 50 minutes or until the onions are tender but retain their shape and the liquid has evaporated. Add them to the stew.
1/2 pound of small button mushrooms, washed and dried
1 tablespoon of olive oil
2 tablespoons of butter
In a large non stick skillet heat up butter and oil on a high heat, it will bubble and as soon ad the foam subsides it is ready to add the mushrooms. Toss in the mushrooms and coat with the butter and oil. Toss and shake the pan and cook for 4 to 5 minutes. The mushrooms will be done when they begin to brown. Remove and add to the stew.
To finish the stew:
Toss all the ingredients together and serve in bowls with the vegetable of your choice.
This stew can be made the night before and reheated, it tastes amazing the next day as well.
Happy cooking, I hope you will enjoy it as much as we did!
A little about me