Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Lucky Peasants!

There is no way, I would let Christmas arrive without making Beef Bourguignon (aka., Beef Burgundy, Boeuf a la Bourguignonne). Beef Bourguignon is best made a day ahead, which makes it ideal for my holiday menuThis is a rustic peasant dish from the Bourgogne countryside of France, featuring the region's Charolais cattle and local red wine. This stew consists of beef, braised with carrots, onions, and red wine, then finished with bacon, pearl onions, and mushrooms... nothing could be more luxurious! Julia Child said it "is the best beef stew known to man." I agree! 

I have made almost every Beef Bourguignon recipe out there, (except, for one containing fish sauce... that's just wrong), and prefer Laura Calder's recipe, from French Taste: Elegant Everyday Eating. Traditional accompaniments include buttered noodles, rice, and mashed potatoes; but, I like it just as it is, with a sprinkle of parsley, a nice glass of red wine, and lots of crusty bread.

*The most important part of Beef Bourguignon is to take the time to properly sear the beef. This takes me about 30-40 minutes! Plan for it. This also makes a royal mess! Plan for that, too. Another note: Sometimes, depending on the wine used, it can acquire a slight bitter note, which can be corrected with 1/2 - 1 teaspoon of sugar.

Beef Bourguignon

Serves 8-10


For the stew
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 pounds boneless stewing beef, such as chuck or sirloin tip, cut into large chunks (pick a roast with a lot of marbling!)
4 garlic cloves, lightly crushed
1/4 cup flour
1 bottle red wine 
4 cups beef stock
1 bouquet garni (bay leaf, parsley stems, and thyme), click here for more information
2 carrots, peeled and halved
2 onions, peeled and halved
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the garnish
1 tablespoon olive oil, more if needed
6 to 8 slices bacon, cut into lardons
40 pearl onions, peeled
1 pound button mushrooms, halved or quartered if large
Chopped flat leaf parsley, just before serving


For the stew
Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Heat the oil in a large dutch oven or stockpot with a tight-fitting lid, over medium-high heat. Working in batches, brown the meat well on all sides, removing to a bowl as it's browned. It should look like this:

When the meat is done, reduce the heat to medium-low, add the garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add the flour, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Stirring constantly, pour over the wine and the stock. Add the bouquet garni, carrots, and onions. Return the meat to the pot, cover, and bake in the oven until the meat is very tender, about 3 1/2 hours.

For the garnish
Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Fry the bacon until cooked but not crisp. Remove to a bowl. Add the onions, and saute until browned all over; add to the bacon. Finally, brown the mushrooms, and add to the bowl. Deglaze the pan with 1/2 cup water, reduce to a spoonful, then pour over the garnish. Set aside.

To finish
When the meat is done, remove it from the pot. Strain the stock, discarding the vegetables and bouquet garni. Pour the liquid back into the pot, and boil until thick enough to lightly coat a spoon. (Feel free to add a cube or two of demi-glace, to take it over the top!) Return the meat to the pan with the garnish. Cover, and simmer until the onions are tender and the flavors have blended, about 10 minutes. Adjust the seasonings. Refrigerate overnight. The next day, reheat gently, adjust seasonings, and serve with a sprinkle of parsley.

Recipe adapted from Laura Calder's French Taste: Elegant Everyday Eating.

1 comment:

  1. This is the best recipe I've ever made! Made it for mothers day and everyone couldn't stop raving! Keep sharing your excellent recipes!