Here’s the last recipe for this holiday season. Boeuf bourguignon! Have you seen Julie & Julia? Then you know where I got the inspiration. We only got to see the movie recently on Amazon’s pay-per-view video streaming and couldn’t resist the challenge. It is not the first time I’ve made it but it’s been really long since last time I tried it. The version I’m giving here is from the book “Julia and Jacques cooking at home”. I cooked for a big party so I tripled all the ingredients but I’m giving you the quantities recommended for 6. I did both the beef and the traditional side dish with mushrooms and small white onions. I found that the mushrooms and onions kept me too busy for their contribution. The meat on the other hand is fairly easy to prepare and the taste is superb. I do not take pictures with guests at home, so for this recipe I only got a chance to take a picture of the beef right before it went in the oven and the mushrooms/onions as they were cooking.
Ingredients for the beef
- 5 ounces salt pork (or bacon)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 4 pound boneless beef chuck roast or top blade (I used chuck roast)
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 1/2 cups of chopped onion
- 1 1/2 cups peeled and chopped carrot
- 6 sprigs fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried
- 3 bay leaves
- handful of parsley stems
- 1 head garlic, cloves separated and crushed but not peeled
- 1 large tomato chopped
- 1/2-1 bottle strong red wine (Julia and Jacques recommend pinot noir, I used zifandel)
- 1-2 cups dark stock
How to make the beef stew:
1) Omit this step if you are cooking for people who don’t eat pork. Cut the salt pork into slices, then into strips and then simmer with a little water for 10 minutes to remove the salt. Drain, rinse in cold water and pat dry (none of this is needed if you use bacon but the bacon alternative is my suggestion, not Julia’s). These pieces are called `lardons’. Saute the lardons until lightly brown, remove and place in the casserole (I used Dutch oven).
2) Beef prep. Trim the beef of all fat, cut into chunks (about 18 pieces), dry it with paper towels, add salt and pepper and saute until brown on both sides. Make sure that the pieces have enough room around them! Do not crowd them or they will start boiling. When all the beef is done, remove the fat from the pan, add a cup of wine and bring to simmer. Let any brown bits mix with the wine by scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon and add the liquid to the casserole.
3) Veggies prep. Now, you need to make a bag with vegetables and then you’ll be ready to put the casserole in the oven. Fold in cheese cloth the onions, carrots, thyme, bay leaves, parsley stems, garlic cloves and tie securely. Place the bag in the middle of the casserole and surround it with the sautéed beef.
4) Put together.Top with the tomato pieces and add more wine and up to 1-2 cups of stock to cover the meat chunks. Stop when the meat is covered.
In the photo below you can see what mine looked like before it went in the oven. As I said, I tripled the recipe so the pot is overflowing but you can still see part of the cheese cloth in the middle, the browned meat and the tomatoes. Cook in pre-heated 300 F oven for about 2 hours, or until the meat is tender. You can stop the recipe here and serve with noodles or go all the way and prepare the side and gravy.
Ingredients for the mushroom and onions side
- 18 small white onions
- 1 1/2 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 cup stock
- 10 ounces fresh mashrooms
How to make:
Onions. To peel the onions easily, put them in a pan with boiling water for a minute. Take them off and remove the peel (you can do it with your hands, no knife necessary, the good part of the onion will just pop out if you squeeze the peel). You can make a cross at the bottom to keep them from falling apart but I didn’t and they were still fine. Trim and clean the mushrooms. Cut them in halves if they are big. Put the onions in a saucepan together with the butter, sugar, salt and 1/2 cup or more of stock. Bring to boil, cover the pan tight and cook for about 10 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking until the liquid evaporates and he onions are glazed (=become brown and shiny/caramelized).
Mushrooms: Add the mushrooms. Cook in moderate heat until all the veggies are browned. The mushrooms will release liquid so do not add any more liquid thinking there’s not enough for the mushrooms to cook. When the veggies are all glazed and colored set aside. You can deglaze (=let the brown bits stuck in the pan mix with something liquid) the pan with some wine or stock and pour that, too, in the casserole.
Gravy. Finally, to make a gravy like sauce, put 2 tablespoons butter in a pan with 2 tablespoons flour and heat to make a thick paste. Add 1/2 cup or more liquid from the stew to thin the sauce. You can mix the sauce with the stew and cook it for a bit longer. I didn’t. I served it over the meat in the plates like gravy and it was really delicious.
Guys, I cannot begin to describe how much I like this recipe for the meat. The tenderness of it from being slowly cooked and the taste of it from being cooked with red wine are beyond description! The onion and mushroom dish was also very good but frankly it kept me way too busy stirring all the time and I didn’t feel compensated for the effort.