Boeuf Bourguignon

I decided to make last weekend one of Julia Child’s signature dishes: Boeuf Bourguignon. Since I watched Julie & Julia movie in September 2009, I want to make this famous recipe. This movie was very special for me. I was fascinated for her passion for food and the way cooking changes her life. And those feelings somehow elevated my desire to cook and learn more about culinary techniques.

Exactly one year after that, my beloved hubby gave me the “Mastering The Art of French Cooking", 2 volumes, eleventh edition. Making some delicious recipes from this book and watching some of her old TV Shows I learned more about her. With her first classic cookbook she not only clarifies what real French culinary is, but simply teaches us how to cook. "She elevates the consciousness to the refined pleasures of dining", as Thomas Keller said. I love it!

About Boeuf Bourguignon recipe, she explains: “As is the case with most famous dishes, there are more ways than one to arrive at a good boeuf bourguignon. Carefully done, and perfectly flavored, it is certainly one of the most delicious beef dishes concocted by man, and can well be the main course for a buffet dinner. Fortunately you can prepare it completely ahead, even a day in advance, and it only gains in flavor when reheated.” 

I felt so excited and pride making this recipe! But I had doubts about what kind of meat I should buy. In Brazil we have different names and types of meat cutting. Then comparing the beefs charts I found that lean stewing beef is round steak or London broil steak (for Brazilians is patinho or paleta).  

What do I have to say about Boeuf Bourguignon? Yummy! It’s really, really good. And what about the tasty in the next day? I tried in both days and I have to admit that the flavors were more intense in the second day, exactly as she said. I served the beef with mashed potatoes and a full body, young red wine Beaujolais, which were perfect combinations.

                                           Bon appétit!

Boeuf Bourguignon

 Serves 6
9- to 10-inch fireproof casserole dish, 3 inches deep
Slotted spoon
6 ounces bacon
1 Tbsp. olive oil or cooking oil
3 pounds lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 sliced carrot
1 sliced onion
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 Tbsp. flour
3 cups full-bodied, young red wine, such as a Chianti
2 to 3 cups brown beef stock or canned beef bouillon
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 cloves mashed garlic
1/2 tsp. thyme
Crumbled bay leaf
Blanched bacon rind
18 to 24 small white onions, brown-braised in stock
1 pound quartered fresh mushrooms, sautéed in butter
Parsley sprigs

Remove rind from bacon, and cut bacon into lardons (sticks, 1/4 inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long). Simmer rind and bacon for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 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 stewing 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 2 1/2 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 2 1/2 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: Covet 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 15 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.

Braised Onions

18 to 24 peeled white onions about 1 inch in diameter
1½ Tb butter
1½ Tb olive oil
½ cup of brown stock 
½ bay leaf
¼ tsp thyme
parsley sprigs

 Heat a stainless-steel pan over medium-high heat. Add the oil and butter and saute the onions over moderate heat for approximately 10 minutes or  until golden brown. 

Add the stock, the herb bouquet and season to taste.
Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but retain their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Remove herb bouquet. Serve them as they are.