Today I’m featuring my first guest post on the site by my wonderful and beautiful friend Elissa on one of Julia Child’s famous dishes, Boeuf Bourguignon.
So without further ado, here’s Elissa!
Beef stew has never been a favorite dish of mine. I like it just fine, and if someone plops a big ol’ bowl of it in front of me I will certainly gobble it all up, but it’s not something I get really excited about eating. If I’m going to eat beef, a really good hamburger or steak is the way to go for me. So naturally, when I went home last weekend and my mom announced that she would be making boeuf bourguignon for dinner (something I still cannot spell without looking it up every single time I type it, by the way), I thought, “So basically we’re having beef stew…no big deal.” I couldn’t have been more wrong.
When I arrived home around 4:00 pm and my mom had already begun cooking for what was supposed to be a late dinner, I knew this was no ordinary beef stew. This was something special. I glanced at the recipe she had printed out on the counter. There were 44 steps. 44 STEPS. I couldn’t believe it. This must be really special. And oh boy was I right.
This was one of the best meals I have ever eaten. This was better than a big juicy steak. This was better than the best hamburger I have ever had. This was magic. I finished my bowl and, feeling incredibly full, immediately got up for seconds. That’s how delicious this was.
I will never attempt to make this meal in my teeny tiny kitchen on my teeny tiny stove, but I will make this on my own someday and it will be glorious. For those of you who have larger kitchens and a decent amount of counter space, you absolutely must make this. Whether you decide to make it on the weekend when you have lots of extra time or save it for a special event, I can assure you that whoever eats this dish will be praising you all night for a fantastic and truly memorable meal (just ask my mom!).
Boeuf Bourguignon (This was adapted from Julia Child’s original recipe.)
Prep time: 1 hour Total Time: 5 hours Servings: 6-8 (depending on the size of your portions)
For the stew:
- 6 ounces bacon
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 lbs lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
- 1 carrot, peeled and sliced
- 1 onion, peeled and sliced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 3 cups red wine (a full bodied wine like Bordeaux or Burgundy or Chianti. Use a wine that you would drink–not cooking wine)
- 2 -3 cups beef stock
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 garlic cloves, mashed (you may choose to add more)
- 1 sprig thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme)
- 1 bay leaf, preferably fresh
For the braised baby carrots:
- The “better part” of a small package of baby carrots (sorry I can’t be more exact–my mom said she doesn’t know exactly how many she used!)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup beef stock
- salt & fresh ground pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 sprig thyme
- 2 sprigs parsley
For the sautéed mushrooms:
- 1 lb mushroom, quartered
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Cut the bacon into pieces about ¼ ” thick and 1 ½” long.
- Simmer the bacon in 1 ½ quarts of water.
- Drain and dry the bacon and reserve.
- Pre-heat the oven to 450°F.
- Put the tablespoon of olive oil in a large ovenproof pot and warm over moderate heat.
- Sauté the bacon for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon.
- Dry off the pieces of beef and sauté them, a few at a time, in the hot oil/bacon fat until nicely browned on all sides.
- Once browned, remove to the side plate with the bacon.
- In the same oil/fat, sauté the onion and the sliced carrot until softened.
- Pour off the fat and return the bacon and the beef to the pot with the sliced carrots and onion.
- Toss the contents of the pot with the salt and pepper and sprinkle with the flour.
- Set the uncovered pot in the oven for 4 minutes.
- Toss the contents of the pot again and return to the hot oven for 4 more minutes.
- Lower the heat to 325°F and remove the pot from the oven.
- Add the wine and enough stock so that the meat is barely covered.
- Add the tomato paste, garlic, and herbs.
- Bring to a simmer on the top of the stove.
- Cover and place in the oven, adjusting the heat so that the liquid simmers very slowly for 3 to 4 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.
- While the meat is cooking, prepare the mushrooms and set them aside along with the baby carrots until needed.
- Heat the butter and oil in a large skillet and add the baby carrots to the skillet.
- Sauté over medium heat for about ten minutes, rolling the baby carrots about so they brown as evenly as possible.
- Pour in the stock, season to taste, add the herbs, and cover.
- Simmer over low heat for about 20 to 30 minutes until the carrots are perfectly tender but retain their shape and the liquid has mostly evaporated.
- Remove the herbs and set the baby carrots aside.
- For the mushrooms, heat the butter and oil over high heat in a large skillet.
- As soon as the foam begins to subside add the mushrooms and toss and shake the pan for about five minutes.
- As soon as they have browned lightly, remove from heat.
- To Finish The Stew: When the meat is tender, remover the pot from the oven and empty its contents into a sieve set over a saucepan. (A sieve looks like this. If you don’t have one, I think you would be fine using a regular colander).
- Wash out the pot and return the beef and bacon to it. Discard the bits of sliced carrot, onion, and herbs which remain in the sieve, but don’t worry about getting every little piece!
- Distribute the mushrooms and baby carrots over the meat.
- Skim the fat off the sauce and simmer it for a minute or two, skimming off any additional fat which rises to the surface.
- You should be left with about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If the sauce is too thick, add a few tablespoons of stock. If the sauce is too thin, boil it down to reduce to the right consistency.
- Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables.
- Place the covered pot over medium-low heat and simmer 2 to 3 minutes.
- Serve over hot egg noodles along with a hunk of good bread to soak up all the sauce and ENJOY!
Do not be intimidated by the number of steps in this recipe (but at least I cut it down a tiny bit!)– it’s just a bit wordy. It seems like a complicated recipe, but it’s actually quite easy especially if you have a helper (which I highly recommend!).
Last night I had my last bit of leftovers for dinner. I didn’t have any egg noodles around so I used macaroni instead (as you can see in the picture). It was every bit as yummy (if not yummier!) than it was the day it was made. As I reluctantly took my last succulent bite into the incredibly tender and delicious beef, I knew it wouldn’t be long before I found a way to get my hands (and mouth!) on some tasty boeuf bourguignon again :)