Going French: Boeuf Bourguignon (Beef Stew with Red Wine)
You read it right! It’s more than the French toast which we featured last week. Our decision to go French for this week’s food blog was not borne out of our desire to be chefs. Au contraire, it is our credo to be good cooks at least for our families and okay, sometimes, our friends. But because we thought that bringing French food to the dinner table is akin to concocting a gayuma (love potion) to impress our wives, we told ourselves to go for it!
But we only had little time to prepare! So we decided to go for a simple recipe; one that has ingredients that are easily accessible and reasonably priced. Surfing through the net, we stumbled upon a recipe that looked easy: boeuf bourguignon. It also turned out that it was Julia Child’s famous (uh oh!) recipe and not knowing anything about Julia Child except from the Google doodle that reminded us of her 100th birthday, we thought it would be a cinch.
Then we were confronted with the fact that Child’s recipe is not for those in a hurry. In the middle of it all, we began to ask ourselves, “Is this worth pursuing?” The directions were so numerous with words so unfamiliar (e.g., lardon) that we got confused with what we had to do next. Questions like, “Should we put the beef in the oven or should we coat it with flour first?” “What the heck is a casserole?” (It turned out it was a saucepan and not a Pyrex dish! 😀 ) “Where in the world will we get all those small onions?” “Why can’t we just cook the bacon with the rest of the beef if we were to put all of it in the saucepan anyway?”
But like a real trooper but done with care, we sallied forth and finished our dish six hours later! Best of all, despite the arduous and meticulous task of preparing our first French food, our families were very much satisfied with what we prepared and once again, won the hearts of our wives.
Cheers to Julia’s 100th and here’s to the best French dish we have prepared! 😀
Note: The complete recipe can be accessed here . You can watch Julia Child demonstrate her recipe here.Although we tried to be as close to how it was done, the recipe that appears below was modified from Julia Child’s recipe because some of the ingredients could not be found at the local grocer (e.g. small onions) or the procedure was a bit difficult at the time the dish was prepared. Our regrets.
DADS’ BEEF STEW with RED WINE (adapted from Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon)
Bacon (six slices, preferably unsalted)
Lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 large carrot, sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
2 tbsp. flour
2-3 cups full-bodied, young red wine
2-3 cups brown beef stock or canned beef bouillon
1 tbsp. tomato paste
2 cloves mashed garlic
½ tsp. thyme
1 bay leaf, crumbled
Blanched bacon rind
18 to 24 small white onions, brown-braised in stock
Quartered fresh mushrooms, sautéed in butter
Parsley sprigs for garnishing
- Remove rind (most of the fat) from the bacon, and cut bacon into sticks of ¼ inch and 1 ½ inches long(also called lardons). Simmer rind and bacon for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts of water. Drain and dry in paper towels.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
3.Once dry, sauté the bacon in the oil over moderate heat for 2-3 minutes until it browns lightly. Remove to a side dish then set saucepan (casserole) aside. Reheat the fat until it is almost smoking before you sauté the beef.
4. Dry the stewing beef in paper towels then sauté them a few pieces at a time until it browns slightly on all sides. Add it to the bacon.
5. Using the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables then pour out the sautéing fat.
6. Return the beef and bacon to the saucepan and toss with salt and pepper. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly with the flour. Set saucepan uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat and return to oven for 4 minutes more to give the meat a light crust. Remove the saucepan and turn oven down to 325 degrees.
7. Add 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 to cook the dish using slow cooking. This means covering the saucepan to regulate heat and cook for 2 ½ to 3 hours inside the oven or on the stove top. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.
8. Meanwhile, prepare the onions and mushrooms and set them aside until needed.
9. As soon as the beef is fork tender, pour the contents of the saucepan into a sieve set over a saucepan. Wash the saucepan and return the beef and bacon to it. Arrange the cooked onions and mushrooms over the meat.
10. Remove the fat off the sauce and simmer for 1-2 minutes until fat rises. Remove the fat off the sauce. You should have about 2- 2 ½ cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. Correct the seasoning and once done, pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables. Serve the stew with vegetables, potatoes, noodles, or rice, and garnish with parsley.