If you’ve been reading along with us for a while, you know that I carry a little torch for Julia Child. She was an amazing woman and a wonderful chef at a time when women in the culinary arts were almost unheard of. With her quirky sense of humor and no-nonsense technique, she managed to teach a generation (or two. or three) of American housewives and home cooks not only about cooking, but about food itself.
Last August we celebrated Julia Child’s birthday and had a wonderful time (read about it here). We made seasonal dishes with our fresh vegetables and local chicken. Definitely, something we will do again. When the weather this week took a sudden turn toward real winter, my first thought was of this dish–a classic French beef stew called boeuf bourguignon. Oh. My. Goodness.
If you are a carnivore and it is cold where you live, you must make this. Yes, it is expensive, but it does make a very large pot and you will get several meals out of it. Yes, it takes some time, but it is totally worth it.
We used local, organic ingredients for our stew (except the wine–I used what I had). Our beef came from a local farm, Coon Rock Farm, and it was so tender and flavorful, it was hard to stop eating. We have so far served it with red, white and blue potatoes (to honor France as well as our presidential inauguration) and will serve it over pasta as well. Make this!
Boeuf Bourguignon (serves 6-8)
For the stew:
- 6 ounces uncured bacon
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 3 lbs. lean, pasture-raised stew beef, cut into 2″ chunks
- 3 organic carrots, peeled and sliced
- 1 organic yellow onion, peeled and sliced
- 1 tsp. kosher or sea salt
- 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp. whole wheat flour
- 3 cups red wine
- 2-3 cups low sodium or homemade beef stock
- 2 tbsp. tomato paste
- 4 organic garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
- 1 sprig fresh, organic thyme
- 1 organic bay leaf
For the braised onions:
- 18-24 white, pearl onions (defrosted and drained if using frozen)
- 1 1/2 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1/2 cup low sodium or homemade beef stock
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 sprig fresh, organic thyme
- 1 fresh, organic bay leaf
- 2 sprigs fresh, organic parsley
For the sauteed mushrooms:
- 1 lb. fresh mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced
- 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
- Prepare the bacon by cutting it into small pieces called lardons, about 1/4″ thick and 1 1/2″ long.
- Heat the tablespoon of olive oil in a large, oven safe casserole dish at medium heat.
- Brown the lardons and render the fat, about 3-4 minutes. Remove bacon from the pan, drain and reserve.
- While bacon is cooking, use paper towels to dry each piece of beef. (I put some towel in my hand, drop in a piece of beef, give it a quick squeeze and set it aside and start over with a new piece.) This is important! Wet beef will not sear properly an you won’t have that lovely crust on each piece.
- Brown beef in the hot oil/bacon fat until nicely browned on all sides. Remove to the bowl or plate with the bacon.
- Add a bit more olive oil if needed and saute the onion and carrot until. until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Pour off any residual fat and add the lardons and beef to the casserole with the carrots and onion.
- Sprinkle all with the flour, salt and pepper and toss well.
- Put the uncovered casserole in the oven for 4 minutes. Toss the contents of the casserole again and return to the hot oven for another 4 minutes.
- Remove casserole to the stove top and lower the oven temperature to 325.
- Add the wine and enough beef stock to the casserole to barely cover the meat. Add the tomato paste, garlic and herbs. Stir well and bring to a simmer on the stove.
- Cover the casserole and place in the oven for three to four hours. The meat is done when it is very tender and pierces easily with a fork.
While the meat is cooking, make the onions.
- Heat butter and olive oil in a small saute pan. Add the defrosted and drained onions to the pan. Saute over medium heat for about 10 minutes, frequently rolling the onions so they brown evenly.
- Pour in the stock, season to taste, add the herbs and cover.
- Simmer over low heat for 40-50 minutes. Check frequently so the stock doesn’t boil off completely and scorch the pan.
- Discard the herbs, remove the onions to a bowl and set aside.
Make the mushrooms:
- Heat the butter and olive oil over medium/high heat in a large skillet.
- When the butter foam subsides, add the mushrooms and toss. Cook about 4-5 minutes.
- As soon as the mushrooms are browned, remove from heat and set aside.
Assemble the stew:
- When the meat is tender, remove the casserole from the oven. Using a slotted spoon (I use a stir fry spider) remove the meat and vegetables from the sauce and reserve in a bowl. Discard the herbs.
- Skim any fat off the sauce and simmer it for a minute or two. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce and it should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. If the sauce is too thin, continue cooking it down.
- Taste for seasonings and correct if needed.
- Put the meat in a heated serving bowl. Top with the onions and mushrooms. Pour the sauce over it.
- Serve immediately with noodles, potatoes or rice. Garnish with fresh parsley.
- You can make this ahead and keep refrigerated for reheating later.