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...

3 lbs. boneless beef short ribs or beef chuck, cut into 1 1/2" chunks
1 lb. bone-in short ribs (optional)
Salt and pepper
3 ribs celery, cut into large dice
4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into large dice
2 onions, peeled and quartered
1 bulb garlic, cloves separated and smashed

3-4 tbsp. olive oil

1/2 cup flour
2 cups dry red wine
4 cups beef stock (low or no sodium)
2 cups water
3 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)
6 sprigs of fresh Italian parsley

4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced

8 oz - 1 lb. whole button mushrooms (if large, cut in half)
1 onion, thinly sliced
4 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 if using) 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, 4 diced carrots, smashed garlic cloves, and 2 quartered onions, stirring frequently, for several minutes until lightly browned. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of flour over the veggie mixture and stir to combine. Stir in the reserved beef. Add the red wine, beef stock (if using unsalted, add 1 tsp. kosher salt or to taste), 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, 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. BUT, if you can't wait that long, it's perfectly ok to do this step straight away.

5. Strain the sauce and set aside. Remove the meat to a separate bowl and set aside. 

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 the fat starts to render.

7. Add 1 thinly sliced onion to the bacon and sauté until browned. Add the mushrooms and continue cooking (add extra olive oil, if needed), until the mushrooms are nicely browned. Add 1/4 cup of water to the bacon-onion-mushroom mixture to deglaze.

8. Add the reserved beef and sliced carrots to the bacon-onion-mushroom mixture. Toss to combine, then add the reserved strained sauce. Bring to boil then reduce heat and simmer for another 30 minutes or until the carrots are tender and the sauce is nicely thickened.

9. Great served as-is or with mashed potatoes. The Chinese in me thinks this will 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.

Smashed garlic cloves (ok to leave skin on), 2 quartered onions, 4 carrots and 3 celery ribs cut into large dice.

Heat 3-4 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 beef. 

Add the wine, 2 cups water, beef stock and tomato paste. If using unsalted beef stock, add 2 tsp. kosher salt or to taste. 

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, 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.

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 1 thinly sliced onion.

One or two 8-oz. pkgs of button mushrooms (depending on how much you like mushrooms). Remove the stems and either leave whole or slice each in half if the shrooms are on the large size. 

Saute the bacon in 1 tbsp. olive oil until the fat starts to render.

Add the sliced onions and cook until lightly browned.

Add the mushrooms and sauté until browned. Deglaze with 1/2 cup of water.

4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced.

Add the beef and strained sauce to the bacon-onion-mushroom mixture, bring to a boil, 
reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. 


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