Monday, March 24, 2014

Boeuf Bourguignonne

Nothing says party-time like opening a bottle of wine at 8 am! Unless you’re making boeuf bourguignonne.

Joe and I are in the middle of planning a trip to France, including some time in Burgundy, and as I read up on food and wine, I realized that I had never tried my hand at many classical French dishes. With a beautiful chuck roast that we’d received from our meat CSA, I knew it was destined for boeuf bourguignonne.

To keep it simple and classic, I settled on the recipe from Joy of Cooking. Although I planned on 24 hours of marinating time, a change in schedule meant it was closer to 48 hours. Since the marinade isn’t highly acidic, I figured it was fine, and the meat turned out wonderfully, not at all mushy. I’m not a fan of pearl onions, so I skipped those and added extra carrots. And I served some new potatoes roasted with Herbes de Provence on the side.

It takes some time to build all of those layers of flavor, but it is completely worth it. The smell of boeuf bourguignonne simmering in the kitchen let me imagine that I was already in France. I never imagined that beef stew could taste so rich and have such depth of flavor.

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First things first, pop the cork on a bottle of Pinot Noir or Beaujolais, something on the light and fruity side. This was a nicer bottle of wine than I would’ve normally used, but we have a lot of wine and it seemed silly to buy something just to cook with. I finished off the rest of the bottle that night.

In a large bowl, combine 2-3 lbs of boneless beef stew meat, cut into 2-inch cubes, 2 cups dry red wine, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 chopped onion, 1-2 chopped carrots, 1 minced garlic clove, a bay leaf, some chopped parsley and thyme, some cracked black peppercorns, and a 1/2 tsp of salt. Stir to combine and coat the meat. It’ll look something like this:

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Yum. Let it marinate for 1-24 (or 48) hours, turning the meat occasionally. The longer the better.

Drain the beef, reserving the marinade, and pat dry. Strain the marinade and reserve the liquid and the vegetables separately.

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add and brown 4 ounces of diced bacon.

Remove the bacon, leaving the fat (about 2 tbsp) in the pan. Add the beef in batches and brown on all sides, being careful not to overcrowd the pot. Browning wine-soaked beef is a holy act, so take your time and enjoy the aroma. Remove with a slotted spoon. When all the beef is browned, add the reserved vegetables and cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.

Stir in 2 tbsp all-purpose flour, and cook, stirring, until beginning to brown. Then add the marinade, followed by the beef and the bacon, to the pot. At this point, add in the pearl onions or peas, if you’d like.

Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook, covered, until the meat is fork-tender, 60-75 minutes. Then add 2 cups mushrooms, quartered (about 8 oz). Cover and cook until tender, about 20 minutes.

Skim the fat from the surface, add some parsley, salt, and pepper to taste, and then you’re good to go.

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