Thursday, October 1, 2009
Boeuf Bourguignon - Recipes to Rival September Challenge
It's hard to believe that September's come and gone and it's time for another Recipes to Rival challenge. This month's recipe, a tribute to Julia Child, is Boeuf Bourguignon. It was chosen by Heather whose gorgeous blog, Randomosity and the Girl, will inspire all who pop in for a visit. I have a sentimental attachment to this recipe. It was the first Bourguignon I ever made. Not my favorite, but my first. I'm fickle. I quickly moved on to one created by Dionne Lucas and tested a few others before ending my search with Thomas Keller's version of the stew. I don't do a lot of experimentation with challenge recipes. To me, the point of a challenge is to test a recipe as it was written, not to play with it until it no longer resembles the one written by its creator. I make as few changes as possible. I did make a couple of changes here, not to ingredients but to technique. I marinated the meat in wine and herbs for 8 hours and I cooked the stew at 250 degrees F. for 4-1/2 hours for better flavor and more tender meat. The rest was pure Julia. If she said to rub your head and stomach while standing on one foot, that's what I did. There is, however, a nagging question that arises every time I make one of these wonderful old recipes. Did that French bon femme really go to the lengths demanded by these modern recipes? Was everything browned, or was it thrown into the pot and simply simmered until tender? Did she really score and peel pearl onions? How could she afford to make this relatively expensive dish? I think you get my drift. Julia's recipe is a lot of work. In fairness, this is a wonderful dish, but there are spots where the instructions get downright precious. I do hope you'll try this because it is a classic, but I also hope you'll look for other easier versions. Here, in all its glory, is Julia's Boeuf Bourguignon. Bon Appetit.
Yield: For 6 people
A 6-ounce chunk of bacon
1 Tb olive oil or cooking oil
3 lbs. lean stewing beef cut into 2-inch cubes (see Notes)
1 sliced carrot
1 sliced onion
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
2 Tb flour
3 cups of a full-bodied, young red wine such as one of those suggested for serving, or a Chianti
2 to 3 cups brown beef stock or canned beef bouillon
1 Tb tomato paste
2 cloves mashed garlic
½ tsp thyme
A crumbled bay leaf
The blanched bacon rind
18 to 24 small white onions, brown-braised in stock
1 lb. quartered fresh mushrooms sautéed in butter
Remove bacon rind and cut bacon into lardons (sticks, ¼ inch thick and 1½ inches long). Simmer rind and bacon for 10 minutes in 1½ quarts of water. Drain and dry.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Sauté the bacon in the oil over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon. Set casserole aside. Reheat until fat is almost smoking before you sauté the beef.
Dry the beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Sauté it, a few pieces at a time, in the hot oil and bacon fat until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the bacon.
In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the sautéing fat.
Return the beef and 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 middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat and return to oven for 4 minutes more. (This browns the flour and covers the meat with a light crust.) Remove casserole, and turn oven down to 325 degrees.
Stir in the wine, and enough stock or bouillon so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs, and bacon rind. Bring to simmer on top of the stove. Then cover the casserole and set in lower third of preheated oven. Regulate heat so liquid simmers very slowly for 2½ to 3 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.
While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms. Set them aside until needed.
When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan. Wash out the casserole and return the beef and bacon to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms over the meat.
Skim fat off the sauce. Simmer sauce for a minute or two, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2½ cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons of stock or canned bouillon. Taste carefully for seasoning. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables.
Recipe may be completed in advance to this point.
FOR IMMEDIATE SERVING: Cover the casserole and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times. Serve in its casserole, or arrange the stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes, noodles, or rice, and decorated with parsley.
FOR LATER SERVING: When cold, cover and refrigerate. About I5 to 20 minutes before serving, bring to the simmer, cover, and simmer very slowly for 10 minutes, occasionally basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce.
Equipment: A 9- to 10-inch fireproof casserole 3 inches deep and a slotted spoon
Cuts of Meat for Stewing:
The better the meat, the better the stew. While cheaper and coarser cuts may be used, the following are most recommended. Count on one pound of boneless meat, trimmed of fat, for two people; three if the rest of the menu is large.
First choice: Rump Pot Roast (Pointe de Culotte or Aiguillette de Rumsteck)
Other choices: Chuck Pot Roast (Paleron or Macreuse a Pot-au-feu), Sirloin Tip (Tranche Grasse), Top Round (Tende de Tranche), or Bottom Round (Gîte a la Noix).
Vegetable and Wine Suggestions:
Boiled potatoes are traditionally served with this dish. Buttered noodles or steamed rice may be substituted. If you also wish a green vegetable, buttered peas would be your best choice. Serve with the beef a fairly full-bodied, young red wine, such as Beaujolais, Côtes du Rhône, Bordeaux-St. Émilion, or Burgundy.