Friday, April 30, 2010

Boeuf Bourguignon a la Julia Child

I enjoy Julia Child. Even before Julie and Julia and her 2nd wave of popularity hit I thought she was great. My dear friend Laura is the proud owner of a beautiful le creuset and approached me one day and suggested we make Boeuf Bourguignon. It was something I've wanted to make for a while but I don't possess the correct crockery and thus could not, until Laura came to the rescue.

Let me tell you, this is delicious, and not too difficult. It takes a while and does involve some prep work but it was totally worth it in the end. The only thing I have to say is that it does not photograph beautifully... but it tastes divine.

Boeuf Bourguignon
from Mastering the Art of French Cooking

6 ounces of bacon (Julia used a solid chunk but we used just regular bacon and it was fine)
1 tbsp olive oil
3 lbs of lean stewing beef cut into 2-inch cubes (we didn't cut ours)
1 sliced carrot
1 sliced onion
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 tbsp flour
3 cups of a full-bodied young red wine (we used Chianti)
2 to 3 cups brown beef stock
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 cloves mashed garlic
1/2 tsp thyme
1 crumbled bay leaf
18 - 24 small white onions brown braised in stock - see recipe below
1 lb quartered fresh mushrooms sauteed in butter - see recipe below

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

1. Cut bacon strips into pieces 1/4 inch wide, it helps if you stack multiple strips and use a sharp knife. Simmer bacon for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts of water. Drain and dry.
2. Saute oil over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon. Reheat the fat until it is almost smoking before you saute the beef.
3. Dry the beef with paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Saute it, a few pieces at a time, in the hot oil and bacon fat until nicely browned on all sides. You may have to add more oil as the beef soaks it up. Once it is brown remove it to the side with the bacon.
4. Once you are finished browning the beef, brown the sliced vegetables in the same fat. Once they are browned, pour out the fat.
5. Return the beef and the bacon to the casserole and toss with the salt and pepper. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly with the flour. Set casserole uncovered in the middle position of the preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat and return to the oven for 4 minutes more. Remove the casserole and turn the oven down to 325 degrees.
6. Stir in the wine and enough stock so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic and herbs. Bring to simmer on top of the stove. Once it is simmering, cover the casserole and set in the lower third of the preheated oven. Regulate the heat so that the liquid simmers very slowly for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.
7. While the beef is cooking prepare the onions and mushrooms as indicated in the recipes below. Set them aside until needed.
8. When the meat is tender pour, pour the contents of the casserole carefully into a sieve (or pasta strainer with little holes) set over a saucepan. Wash out the casserole dish and return the beef and bacon to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms over the meat.
9. Skim the fat off the sauce. Simmer the sauce for a minute or two skimming off the additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. Our sauce was very thin so we boiled it down rapidly for another 6 to 7 minutes to get the correct consistency. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables.
10. For immediate serving, cover the casserole and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat before serving. To serve it later, cover the casserole once it has cooled and refrigerate. About 15 to 20 minutes before serving bring to a simmer, cover and simmer very slowly for 10 minutes before serving.

Bon Appetit!

Small White Onions Brown-Braised in Stock

18-24 peeled white onions
1 1/2 tbsp butter
1 1/2 tbsp oil
1/2 cup of brown stock, red wine or water

1. Bring the oil and butter to a simmer in a 9 inch skillet. Add the onions and saute over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling the onions about so they will brown as evenly as possible... you cannot possibly brown them completely uniformly - don't worry.
2. Pour in the liquid, season to taste and cover to simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes until the
onions are tender but retain their shape and most of the liquid has evaporated.

Mushrooms Sauteed in Butter

1 lb mushrooms, washed, well dried and quartered
4 tbsp butter
2 tbsp oil

Julia says the most important thing about browning mushrooms is not to crowd them in the skillet. We did ours in 2 batches.

1. Place a 10 inch skillet over high heat with the butter and oil. As soon as you see the butter foam has begun to subside add the mushrooms. Toss and shake the pan for 4 to 5 minutes. During their saute the mushrooms will first absorb the fat. In 2 to 3 minutes the fat will reappear on their surface and the mushrooms will begin to brown. Once they have browned lightly remove from the heat.