A few weeks ago, I signed up to be a “Daring Cook” and a “Daring Baker”on the Daring Kitchen website. For those who are not familiar, each month someone hosts the challenge, and all the Daring Cooks or Daring Bakers make the same dish and post their results on the same day. I thought this would be a great way to force myself into trying something new each month. And who doesn’t love a good challenge!
Our May 2012 Daring Cooks’ hostess was Fabi or fabsfood. Fabi challenged us to make Boeuf Bourguignon, a classic French stew from the Burgandy region of France.
I’m not sure about everyone else who participated in this challenge, but I sure felt like Julie from Julia & Julie. Julie goes about cooking all the dishes from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, saves Boeuf Bourguignon for last. It sounds like such a fancy and complicated dish, but it reality, it was quite simple. It is one of those dishes that is sure to impress your guests, but you can secretly revel in the fact that you didn’t have to spend all day cooking.
Now, don’t get me wrong, this dish cooks for a long time, but most of the time it is sitting in the oven, making your house smell fantastic, while you are going about your business. It does take a bit of pre-planning, but most of the actual cooking time is hands-off.
To begin, cut some bacon into lardons (thin slices). Julia says to use “chunk of bacon,” but I just used pre-sliced bacon.
Fry the bacon in a little bit of olive oil for about 5 minutes until is a little crispy. Julia says to boil the bacon first, but I skipped this step.
When the bacon is cooked, remove it to a plate and set aside.
Then, fry your pieces of beef in the bacon grease. I did this in two batches, so as not to over crowd the pan. You want to get some good color on the beef, and if there is too much in the pan, it will just steam and not brown.
When your beef has browned, remove it to the same plate as the bacon. If you are frying your beef in batches, do the other batch now.
Once all the meat has been browned, you want to saute some carrots and onions. I added a little more olive oil to the pan at this point. Season them with salt and pepper.
When your veggies have cooked for a few minutes, add the beef and bacon back to the pan. Coat the meat and vegetables with flour, and place the whole thing into a screaming hot oven. Julia says this creates a nice crust for the meat, but I didn’t really notice a difference when I took it out. Anyhow, do it because Julia says to 🙂
Remove the pan from the oven and return it to the stove top over medium-high heat. Add your wine, beef stock, thyme leaves, garlic and tomato paste.
Stir to combine and bring to a simmer on the stove top.
Pour the rest of the wine into a glass and drink. (I added this step, but I think Julia intended it all along. I mean, she leaves just enough wine in the bottle for a perfect glass. She was a smart one 🙂 )
When your sauce is simmering, put a lid on the pot and return it to the oven. Reduces the heat to 325 degrees. Drink your wine and let the Boeuf Bourguignon cook in the oven for 3-4 hours. I let mine go for 3 hours, and it was plenty.
During the last 10 minutes or so of cooking, saute a bunch of mushrooms in butter.
Add a sliced onion, and let these vegetables get nice and caramelized. Julia uses braised onions, but I skipped that step and just sautéed them.
When you take the stew out of the oven, it looks kind of like this.
Remove the meat and veggies from the sauce and put them in a serving dish. Top the meat with the mushroom and onions. Strain the sauce into a smaller sauce pan. Bring the sauce to a boil and boil it until it thickens to a gravy like-consistency. If there is any fat, skim it off the top of the sauce. My sauce was pretty thick already and didn’t really have much fat, so I just brought it to a boil for a minute or two. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables and serve.
Boeuf Bourgignon (Beef Bourguignon)
makes 6 servings
adapted from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking
- 6 oz bacon
- Olive oil
- 3 lbs stew beef, cut into 1-2 inch pieces
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 1 1/2 cups baby carrots (or chopped carrots)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 3 Tbsp flour
- 3 cups red wine (such as Bourgogne, Bordeaux, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chianti, etc. Make sure it is something you would drink!)
- 2 cups beef stock
- 1 Tbsp tomato paste
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp thyme leaves
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 large onion
- 1 lb mushrooms
- 2 Tbsp butter
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- Slice the bacon into lardons and saute them for about 5 minutes in a dutch oven, or oven safe stock pot.
- Remove the cooked bacon to a plate and set aside.
- Fry the beef in the bacon grease. Do this in batches if your pan is not large enough to hold all the meat. Do not crowd the pan, as the meat will steam instead of brown.
- Remove the meat to the same plate as the bacon.
- In the same pan, saute the carrots and onions for about 5 minutes. Add more olive oil if the pan is too dry. Season with the salt and pepper.
- Return the bacon and beef to the pan. Sprinkle in the flour and stir to coat.
- Put the pan, uncovered, into the hot oven for 5 minutes.
- Remove the pan and return it to the stove top.
- Add the wine, stock, tomato paste, garlic, thyme and bay leaf. Stir to combine.
- Cover the pan, and return to the oven. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees.
- Allow the stew to cook in the oven for 3-4 hours.
- During the last 10 minutes of cooking, saute the mushrooms and onions in the butter until they are browned.
- Remove the stew from the oven. Spoon out the meat and vegetables into a serving dish.
- Top the meat with the sautéed mushrooms and onions.
- Strain the sauce into a saucepan. Bring the sauce to a boil until it thickens to a gravy-like consistency. If there is any excess fat on the sauce, skim it off.
- Pour the sauce over the meat and mushrooms and serve the stew with rice, potatoes or noodles.