Boeuf Bourguignon

Another beautiful rustic French classic, the method for this dish bears a resemblance to Traditional Coq Au Vin.  When I made this for the first time, I followed Julia Child’s recipe to the letter, and I remember thinking about halfway through the process “This woman was insane.”  Now that I’ve made it a few times, I actually don’t think she was that crazy – it takes a bit of practice to get it down, but actually despite the fact that the whole process takes about 5 hours, there’s really probably only about 90 minutes of active time.  Still, it’s not the kind of thing you can whip up on a week night; you’ll have to wait for a day off to make it, but most of that day can be spent relaxing or doing other things while the delicious smell of beef braised in red wine permeates your home.

This recipe follows Julia’s recipe very closely, but has a few tweaks that are mainly to my personal preference, including the addition of celery and also an umami bomb.

Time: 5 hours (90 minutes inactive)
Level: Advanced
Cost: About $5.00 per plate
Serves: 6

Ingredients

  1.  Approximately 3 lbs chuck roast, trimmed of any fat or gristle, but left in large pieces
  2. Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  3. Vegetable or grape seed oil
  4. 12oz thick-cut bacon, sliced into lardons
  5. 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  6. 1 14oz can low sodium beef stock, divided
  7. 4 stalks celery, cut into 1 inch pieces
  8. 5 carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
  9. 1 large onion, sliced
  10. 3 cloves garlic
  11. 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  12. 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  13. 1 tablespoon anchovy paste
  14. 2 bay leaves
  15.  Several sprigs fresh parsley
  16.  Several sprigs fresh thyme
  17. 1 750ml bottle dry red wine (cheap is fine, I use Aldi’s Winking Owl shiraz, $2.59)
  18. 12 small boiler onions
  19. 8 oz crimini or baby bella mushrooms, halved if large
  20. 1 shot brandy
  21. 2 lbs small roasting potatoes (which will actually be boiled)
  22. 1/2 cup chopped parsley, for garnishing

Prep and Mise En Place

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil (like you would for pasta)
  3. Prepare mirepoix (celery, onions, carrots) and combine in a medium bowl
  4. Prepare umami bomb (soy sauce, tomato paste, anchovy paste) and combine in a small bowl
  5. Mince garlic and reserve in a small bowl
  6. Trim beef and season aggressively with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  7. Slice bacon
  8. Measure out flour
  9. Open can of beef stock
  10. Open bottle of wine
  11. Prepare Bouquet Garni:  bundle thyme, parsley and bay leaves together and wrap in cheesecloth (a coffee filter tied shut will work in a pinch)
  12. Slice the stem end (not the root end) off the boiler onions but leave them unpeeled
  13. Prepare mushrooms
  14. Measure out shot of brandy

Instructions

  1. Blanch onions in boiling water for 7 minutes, remove with a slotted spoon and, using a colander rinse under cold running water until cool.  Once cool, pinch the ends to peel onions under running water; the skins should slide right off.  Remove root end of onions with a paring knife, transfer to a bowl, and refrigerate.
  2. Blanch bacon in boiling water for 10 minutes, remove with a slotted spoon, and transfer to a plate lined with paper towels.  Pat dry.  (You want it dry – the more water there is in/on the bacon, the more angry popping and spattering you’ll get when you fry it).
  3. Add two tablespoons of vegetable or grape seed oil along with bacon to a large saute pan and fry bacon until brown and slightly crispy, 5-7 minutes.  Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate with paper towels to blot up some of the grease
  4. Over high heat, brown beef in large chunks in bacon fat, approximately 2.5 – 3 minutes per side, until nicely browned and a lovely fond begins to form on the bottom of the pan.  Remove beef to a cutting board and allow to cool.
  5. Add mirepoix (celery, onions, and carrots) to the pan.  Reduce heat to medium high.  Sweat vegetables; as they begin to give up some of their moisture scrape up the fond from the bottom of the pan and incorporate.  Continue to sweat vegetables until they give up much of their moisture and begin to brown and caramelize slightly.
  6. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, 30 seconds
  7. Add umami bomb (mixture of tomato paste, soy sauce and anchovy paste) and stir to incorporate, another 30 seconds
  8. Add about 1/3 of the bottle of red wine to finish deglazing the pan and stop the browning process.  Reduce heat to low and simmer stirring occasionally and scraping up any remaining fond.  Once all the fond is incorporated, off the heat entirely to prevent it from reducing too much.
  9. Meanwhile, while wine and vegetables are simmering, cube beef into 1 inch cubes and add to a dutch oven or braising pot.  Sprinkle the beef with flour and stir to ensure the beef is evenly coated.  Place, uncovered, in 400°F for 5 minutes.  Remove from oven, stir, and return to the oven uncovered for another 5 minutes.
  10. Remove beef from oven.  Add contents of sauté pan, bacon, remaining wine, 1/2 can of beef broth and bouquet garni to the beef in the dutch oven.  Stir to make sure everything is well incorporated.
  11. Cover, and bring to a boil.
  12. Once boiling, place dutch oven into the oven and mostly cover with a lid, leaving the lid slightly ajar with a 1/2 or so inch gap.  Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.
  13. Allow stew to braise for 3-4 hours until beef is very tender.
  14. Approximately 1 hour before finishing, prepare potatoes and onions:
    1. Place potatoes in a large pot and fill with water so water is covering potatoes by 2 inches.  Cover, and bring to a boil.  Add a large pinch of Kosher salt and then uncover and reduce to a simmer.  Simmer potatoes until they are soft and pierce easily with a fork, approximately 45 minutes.
    2. Meanwhile, add 2 tablespoons oil to a 10 inch skillet and sauté onions over medium high heat until lightly browned, 3-5 minutes.  Add remaining beef stock to skillet and deglaze any onion fond that may have formed.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes.  Cover or partially cover if stock reduces too quickly (ultimately, you want all but a couple tablespoons of stock to reduce)
  15. 15 minutes before finishing, transfer onions and whatever liquid remains in the skillet to the dutch oven; replace in oven as it was before.
  16. Clean the skillet, if need be, and prepare the mushrooms:  Melt 2 tablespoons unsalted butter over medium heat.  Once foaming has subsided, add mushrooms and season with salt and pepper.  Sauté mushrooms.  You will observe that at first, the fat is absorbed into the mushrooms and the pan will look quite dry.  Once the fat begins to come back out of the mushrooms and the mushrooms look slightly wet, add the shot of brandy and flambé.
  17. Remove the dutch oven from the oven and add the mushrooms.  Replace the lid and leave a 1/4 inch gap.  Using sturdy oven mitts or thick potholders, firmly grasp the dutch oven and dump the liquid out of the dutch oven, using the lid to catch any large pieces, through a fine mesh strainer (to catch the smaller pieces) and into a 4 quart saucepan.  Cover the dutch oven and set aside.
  18. Simmer the liquid in the saucepan until reduced by 1/3 to 1/2, skimming off the fat as it rises to the top
  19. Meanwhile, drain the potatoes .  Add 1 stick of unsalted butter to the potatoes along with 1/4 cup of parsley and toss until butter is melted.
  20. Return reduced liquid from saucepan to dutch oven and stir to reincorporate.
  21. Serve stew over potatoes

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