Monday, April 7, 2014

Beef Bourguignon


Beef Bourguignon (or Boeuf a la Bourguignonne) is a beef stew recipe that hails from the Burgundy region of France. The traditional ingredients are chunks of beef chuck braised in red wine, garlic, onions, lardon (thick-cut bacon), assorted herbs, pearl onions and mushrooms. All that red wine, the addition of shrooms, and the lack of potatoes separates this dish from what we know of as American-style beef stew. Beef Bourguignon has few ingredients and is relatively easy to make, but is laborious in terms of the total cooking time - lots of low and slow sautéing, braising, straining, etc., but the end result is delish. Taking the cue from some other recipes I found along the way, I've added celery and carrots to the braising mixture, substituted the beef chuck with boneless beef short ribs, and the pearl onions with a couple of very thinly sliced regular (brown/yellow) onions. Btw, I absolutely, completely, totally, vehemently hate pearl onions!!! Whyfor? Well, it's a completely explicable childhood phobia of mine that I'll explain at another time. Stay tuned...

Ingredients:
6 lbs. boneless beef short ribs, cut into 1 1/2" chunks
1 lb. bone-in short ribs
Salt and pepper
3 ribs celery, cut into large dice
5 medium carrots, each peeled and cut into large dice
2 onions, peeled and quartered
10 cloves peeled garlic, smashed

3 tbsp. olive oil

1/2 cup flour
1 750-ml bottle of dry red wine
8 C. beef stock (low sodium)
2 cups water
2 tbsp. tomato paste

3 bay leaves (fresh, if you can get it, otherwise dried is ok)
8 sprigs fresh thyme (or 2 tsp. dried thyme)
4-5 sprigs of fresh Italian parsley

4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced

2 lbs. whole button mushrooms
2 onions, thinly sliced
6 slices bacon, cut into 1/4" slices
1+ tbsp. olive oil

1. Cut boneless beef ribs into 1 1/2" chunks and let sit at room temperature for 15-20 minutes. Pat dry with paper towels, then season both the beef chunks and bone-in short ribs generously with salt & pepper.

2. Add 3 tbsp. of olive oil to a large cast iron pot or Dutch oven and heat over medium- high to high heat. Brown the beef (including the bone-in short ribs) in batches, 3-5 minutes per side, until well browned. Do not overcrowd the pan or the beef will steam instead of browning. Remove the beef as they brown to a platter.

3. In the same pan, add 1 tbsp. of olive oil to the remaining drippings and reduce the heat to medium. Sauté the diced celery, 5 diced carrots and 2 quartered onions, stirring frequently, for several minutes until lightly browned. Add the smashed garlic cloves and cook an additional 1-2 minutes. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of flour over the veggie mixture and stir to combine. Add the bottle of red wine, beef stock, 2 cups of water, tomato paste and the herbs (if using fresh, you can tie the thyme and parsley together up in a bundle with kitchen twine to make a bouquet garni, and add that to the pot). Turn the heat up to high and bring the mixture up to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer and cook 3-4 hours, partially covered, until the meat is very tender.

4. At this point, I like to let the stew sit overnight so that it develops even better flavor, reheat the next day, then remove the meat and strain out the solids by pouring the sauce through a sieve. Remove the meat from the bones of the bone-in short ribs and discard the bones.

5. Place the strained sauce into another large pan and bring to a boil. Add 4 medium peeled and sliced carrots, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook 5-10 minutes or until the sauce has thickened.

6. In the meantime, add I tbsp. of olive oil to the same Dutch oven that had been cooking the stew earlier, heat over medium heat, and sauté the sliced bacon until browned. Remove & set aside.

7. Add 2 thinly sliced onions and sauté until browned. Add the reserved bacon back to the pan, stir, and add the whole mushrooms. Continue cooking (covered, and adding extra olive oil, as needed), until the mushrooms are nicely browned. Add 1/2 cup of water to the bacon-onion-mushroom mixture to deglaze.

8. Add the reserved beef and the bacon-onion-mushroom mixture to the simmering sauce, cover and continue simmering for 30 minutes.

9. Great served as-is or with mashed potatoes. The Chinese in me thinks this with be awesome with rice - heh, heh!

6 lbs. boneless short ribs and 1 lb. bone-in short ribs.

Cut the boneless short ribs into 1 1/2" chunks.

Let the meat sit out for 15-20 minutes at room temperature, then blot dry with paper towels.

Season meat liberally with salt & pepper.

10 cloves smashed garlic, 2 quartered onions, 5 carrots and 3 celery ribs cut into large dice.

Heat 3 tbsp. of olive oil in a Dutch oven and brown the beef in batches.

Remove beef to platter as it browns.

Add 1 tbsp. olive oil to the drippings and sauté the carrots, onion, celery and garlic until lightly browned.

Sprinkle 1/2 cup of flour over the veggies and stir to combine.

Add the wine, 2 cups water, beef stock and tomato paste. 

Fresh herbs: Bay leaves, thyme and Italian parsley.

Tie the thyme and parsley together in a bundle with kitchen twine to make a 'bouquet garni' - this just makes it easier to remove them from the pot later on.

Simmer, partially covered, for 3-4 hours or until the meat is super tender. For best results and flavor, let the pot cool down and sit overnight before straining. Cool thing about this method is that any fat will congeal on the top by the next day, making it super easy to skim off and be rid of those extra calories.

The next day, reheat the stew, remove the beef with tongs to a platter, then strain out the solids by pouring the sauce through a sieve. Straining the sauce leaves it with a velvety smooth texture.

Meat removed from the stew.

For the bacon-onion-mushroom garnish: bacon sliced into 1/4" pieces and 2 thinly sliced onions.

2 8-oz. pkgs of button mushrooms (leave whole).

Saute the bacon in 1 tbsp. olive oil until browned. Remove & set aside.

Saute the sliced onions in the drippings until lightly browned, then stir in the reserved bacon.

Add the mushrooms and sauté until browned. Deglaze with 1/2 cup of water, then turn off heat.

4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced.

Add the carrots to the strained sauce, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer 5-10 minutes until sauce has thickened.

Add the beef and bacon-onion-mushroom garnish to the pot, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. 

Voila!