Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Bouef Bourguignon

Julia Child taught Americans how to cook classic French food. I believe her first show was in 1963, after she penned a book on the subject. Bouef bourguignon is a centerpiece of french cooking, a hunk of cheap meat cooked in red wine with some veg. Um, get me a piece of crusty french bread and a glass of red wine and I'm all set. A burgundy would be ideal, however if you don't have a Grand-Cru (something a little lower on the hill, village-level perhaps) laying around, any hearty zin or maybe a shiraz or malbec would work.

Like most stews and such, this will taste better once chilled and reheated, allowing the complete flavor profile to come back together once cooled, and more importantly, for gelatin to do work. This will thicken your gravy the second time through. And the third goes to the freezer, as hibernation is in full force.

Yes, keeping with the theme-things that taste good on cold days. Speaking of which, it's been the 17th coldest start to January (1-5) in 140 years with an average of 11 F.

And no, my name is not Julie, I'm not cooking one dish per day in 2009. This recipe here takes some very minor shortcuts anyway, which most at-home cooks in the French country would anyway.

Bouef Bourgingnon

3-31/2 lbs. chuck roast, stewing beef, whatever you got, cut into 1 1/2-2" pieces
6 oz. bacon, thickly-sliced, 1/4" slices
3 TB butter, reserved
3/4 lb fresh pearl onions (par-boiled for 2 min. and peeled)
3/4 fresh button mushrooms, sliced
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium carrot, diced
3 TB flour
2 TB tomato paste
1 bottle Cabernet or Zinfandel, something full-bodied, like the first girl I held hands with.
2-3 C homemade beef stock, or low-sodium broth
bouquet garni-that day was a few stems oregano and the leftover parsley stems
bay leaf
1 TB fresh parsley, chopped

In your trusty big-ass cast iron casserole pot over medium heat, render the bacon until golden brown, enjoying the incredible aroma of good bacon frying. Thanks for the Nueske's, Gardenhiser's! Incredible stuff, 'Sconny bacon smoked over various hardwoods. Drain on paper towels. Pour off any fat more than a few TB's.

Pat the beef dry with paper towel to ensure the outside is completely dry, which will ensure a nice brown crust. Over medium-high heat, brown the meat on all sides in batches, being careful to not overcrowd the pot. A couple minutes per side should do it.

While the beef is browning, add 1 TB of the butter to a small saute pan. Melt over medium-low heat and add pearl onions, stir frequently until nicely browned. Do the same thing with the shrooms and another 1 TB butter until golden, set veg aside.

Pour off most of the fat, turn the heat to medium, then add the last TB of butter, the onion, garlic, and carrot. Stir for a couple minutes until soft, then sprinkle with the flour. Let sit for 10-20 seconds, then stir frequently for 2 minutes.

Create space (move to open ice?) in the middle of the pot by moving all veg to the side, then add the paste to the middle. This will help caramelize the sugars a bit and that adds flavor. You like flavor. Add the bacon and beef, bouquet garni, bay leaf, then add the wine and stock. Using a flat wooden spatula to scrape the pot, return that tasty fond to the party. You never want to leave that behind. Add enough stock to just cover the meat.

Turn down the heat to a gentle simmer. You want to cover the casserole and stir every 30 minutes or so for 2 1/2 hrs, until the meat is very tender.

Add the mushrooms and onions, then add S&P to taste. Cook for about 30 minutes longer, then remove the garni and bay leaf and stir in the parsley. Find a medium to enjoy this- noodles, potatoes, or rice would be good. Be sure to enjoy a glass of vin with this.

That is some good marbling.

Oh bacon, let's never fight.

After the shroom and onion addition, ready to add the seasoning and get out the tasting spoon.

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