Friday, December 21, 2012

Boeuf Bourguignon- the "refined" stew...

Boeuf Bourguignon (aka Beef Burgundy) is the cadillac of stews.  Layers of flavours, low and slow simmering, big chunks of beef complemented by earthy mushrooms and delicate pearl onions- and don't forget the full bodied wine.  It's the perfect dish to serve after a day on the slopes or for an elegant dinner party...

The cut of beef you choose is important for this dish.  Actually, blade roast is a cheaper cut but so much more flavourful.  It's perfect for this dish which is simmered slowly until the meat is melt-in-your-mouth tender.  Traditionally, you would use red burgundy or Pinot Noir but I used an Okanagan Cabernet Sauvignon.  It's nice to live down the road from the winery!

This recipe serves six to eight generously.

4   ounces of salt pork, cut into 1/4 inch dice
10-12 sprigs of fresh parsley
6   sprigs of fresh thyme
2   medium onions, coarsely chopped
2   medium carrots, coarsely chopped
1   head garlic, crushed but unpeeled
3   bay leaves, torn
1/2 oz dried porcini mushrooms (available at the Italian deli)

4   lbs boneless beef chuck or blade, cut into 1 1/2-inch to 2-inch chunks
3   tbsp unsalted butter, cut into three pieces
1/2 cup all purpose flour (I prefer unbleached flour)
1   tbsp tomato paste
3   cups (750 ml) red wine
2  3/4 cup of chicken broth (preferable homemade)

2   tbsp unsalted butter
1   lb white mushrooms, halved or quartered if they are large
1/2 lb pearl onions
1/2  cup water
1  tbsp sugar

Cook the salt port in a dutch oven until lightly browned and crisp, about 10 minutes.  Remove and transfer to a plate.  Pour off and reserve the fat.

You are now ready to assemble your bouquet garni by placing the first eight ingredients (from the crispy salt pork to porcini mushrooms) in a 15 square inch cheesecloth.  Gather the edges of the cheesecloth together and tie securely with kitchen twine.

Adjust the oven rack to the lower middle position of the oven.  Heat the oven to 325 degrees.  Season the beef with salt and pepper.  Pour two tablespoons of the pork fat into the dutch oven and heat on medium-high until just smoking.  Add half the beef to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned on all sides.  Remove to a bowl.  Add more fat and cook the rest of the meat until well browned and add it to the bowl.

Add three tbsp butter to the pan and melt over medium-low heat.  Stir in the flour and tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until golden, about one minute.  Gradually whisk in the three cups of red wine, then whisk in the chicken broth until the sauce is smooth and bring to a simmer.

Add the meat and the bouquet garni to the sauce- make sure they are submerged in the sauce.  Return to simmer.  Cover, place the pot in the oven and cook until the meat is tender and the sauce thickened. This should take approximately 2 1/2 to 3 hours.  Take your time with this dish- low and slow simmer.

While the stew is cooking, melt one tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the mushrooms and salt (1/2 tsp), and cook the mushrooms about five minutes.  They will have released their juice and begun to brown.  This will take about five minutes.  Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Add the pearl onions, water, 1 tbsp butter, sugar and 1/4 tsp salt to the skillet and bring to a boil over high heat.  Cover and reduce to medium-low heat and simmer, shaking occasionally until the onions are tender, about five minutes.  Uncover, increase the heat to high and simmer until all the liquid evaporates and the onions are browned.  Transfer to the mushroom bowl and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

When the stew is finished cooking, stir in the mushrooms and onions and season again with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve immediately over broad noodles or with mashed potatoes.  Sprinkle the boeuf bourguignon with finely chopped parsley.

If storing or freezing- cool the stew, uncovered, at room temperature for 45 minutes.  Transfer to smaller containers (you could use freezer bags or plastic containers), refrigerate uncovered until completely cooled, place lids on containers and freeze.  Thaw in the refrigerator before reheating either stovetop or in the oven- at low temperatures.

Put this dish over the top by stirring in a couple of tablespoons of red wine and brandy

I couldn't find enough pearl onions for this dish.  Sooo, I supplemented with pickled pearl onions- the tart ones, not the sweet ones.  I drained and rinsed them and added them to the onions in the pan and continued cooking.  Jaine and George, local Okanagan foodies and good friends, served this dish to their guests and it was given two thumbs up.

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