Monday, January 7, 2013

Beef Bourguignon

Quick disclaimer before I go on. I can be complete nitpicky when it comes to spelling, but no matter how many times I write "beef bourguignon" it always ends up differently. Because I don't know French. Hell, I don't even know if this is French, but I'm guessing since it's the infamous Julia Child dish, it probably is. Disclaimer over.

Over the holidays, I wanted to cook something nice and warm for a large number of people. I typically cook for just myself, which means a lot of leftovers. Which is fine, except for when you try something completely out of your comfort zone...and what if it turns out poorly? Then you're stuck with a bunch of leftovers that you don't want to throw away out of principle, but don't exactly want to give it away. So I took the opportunity of a captive family audience, who will not judge me too harshly, to try and make beef bourguignon. In the interest of time, I opted not to do the original Julia child version, which I believe requires a few more hours and steps. I instead did the Anne Burrell version, which was pretty simple. And it turned out really well. So if you have a few hours on your hands, and want to serve a warm meal for a crowd, this is your recipe!

Beef Bourguignon (serves 8-10)

  • 4 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 2 carrots, peeled and halved
  • 2 ribs celery, halved
  • 5 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 bottle red wine
  • 3 fresh bay leaves
  • Olive oil, enough to coat pan
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup flour 
  • 8 ounces slab bacon, cut into lardons (small pieces)
  • 1 large onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 carrots, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 ribs celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste 
  • 2 cups red wine (reserved marinade)
  • 3 to 4 cups beef stock, plus more as needed
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 bundle fresh thyme
  • 1 pound cremini mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 pound red bliss potatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 bunch fresh chives, finely chopped, for garnish
For the marinade, combine the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, bay leaves, and wine in a large bowl or container. Add the beef, cover, and let sit in the refrigerator overnight.

The next day, remove the beef from the marinade. Strain the veggies and bay leaves from the wine and discard, but reserving the wine.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Coat a large, wide pan or Dutch oven with olive oil and bring to medium-high heat. Season the beef generously with salt and toss with flour. Add the flour-coated beef to the hot pan, but be sure not to crowd the pan, so you will need to work in batches.  Do not flour the beef until you're ready to brown it.

Brown the meat well on all sides and remove from the pan to a sheet tray.

Add the bacon and cook until it gets brown and crispy. Toss in the onions, carrots, celery, and season with salt. Cook the mixture for 8 to10 minutes or until the mixture starts to soften and become very aromatic. Add in the garlic and cook for 2 to 3 more minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.

Add 2 cups reserved wine and the beef. Stir to combine and cook until the wine has reduced by 1/2. Add the beef stock to just cover the surface of the beef. Toss in the bay leaves and thyme bundle. Season with salt, if needed. Bring the liquid to a boil, cover the pot and put in the preheated oven.

Cook the beef 2 hours, checking occasionally to add more stock, if needed. During the last 40 minutes of cooking time, add the mushrooms, potatoes, and more stock, if needed.

Remove the pan from the oven, and skim off any excess grease from the surface of the stew. Serve with crusty bread to sop up all the sauce and garnish with chopped fresh chives.

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