Last week was pretty awful.
Aside from a busy work week with baking projects which was actually a lot of fun and hours of analyzing modern American poetry at school, things were sour in my personal life. Since I have little control over the situation, I decided to put my energy into making a slow cooked beautiful meal on Sunday, the only day I get a break from baking. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do and it’s exciting to watch my catering business grow. However, there are some days you have to put down the wooden spoon and bring out the chef’s knife and be bold enough to cook something you’ve never done before. I opted for Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon. If you’ve seen Julia’s cooking shows or have seen the movie Julie & Julia, then you already know the anticipation I felt when I popped open the bottle of red wine and poured it into the base of my beef stew. As the stew finishes cooking slowly in the oven, the aromas of onion, garlic, herbs, and bacon fat fill up the house. A truly, unique, homey meal that warms you up on a rainy day. I’m happy to say, the stew is a 10 out of 10, Vive la France type of french meal I’d be proud to serve to anyone, at any time. The ingredients are simple enough but what elevates this stew to a 5 star dish is the layers of flavors. The wine, beef fat, slow cooked onions, garlic, and chopped thyme are in every single bite.
- 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
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 melt 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.