Friday, December 15, 2017

Making Julia Childs's Boeuf Bourguignon

Back home for the holiday season, it's time to celebrate, cook, and explore.  I've been cooking from Julia Child's famous work, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, for several decades and, when we have guests for dinner on Wednesday after the weekly tennis get-together, it's time to bring out the book and make an old favorite:  Boeuf Bourguignon.  The flavors in this dish complement each other so well that, properly done, it is an incredible beef adventure.

Boeuf Bourguignon, wine, salad

We start with 4 pieces of bacon, cutting off (and saving) the rind and slicing the bacon into ¼ - ½ inch thick strips.  We also get 3-4 pounds of stewing beef (rump roast from the local Safeway), cut into 1" to 2" cubes.

Bacon and beef

The bacon strips and bacon rind simmer in water for about 10 minutes, then sauté in a tablespoon of olive oil for a few minutes.  Once lightly browned, the bacon is removed and the beef cubes are browned in batches in the olive oil and bacon fat.  Once all the beef is browned, the oil and fat is used again to brown sliced vegetables, a carrot and an onion.  The bacon and beef are then returned to the pot (continuing to save the bacon rind aside).

Browned bacon, beef, vegetables together

The mixture is tossed with salt, pepper, and two tablespoons of flour to coat the beef and placed in a 450° F (232° C) oven for four minutes, tossed, and returned to the oven for four more minutes to brown the flour as a light crust on the meat.  Then, we add a bottle of red wine and enough beef stock to cover the meat and vegetables, along with a little tomato paste, the reserved bacon rind, and a few herbs (garlic, thyme, and bay leaf).  The pot is then covered and cooked at 325° F (163° C) for 2½ to 3 hours, until a fork easily pierces the meat.

Assembled, ready to cook

While the meat and vegetables are cooking, we prepare onions an mushrooms that will be added later.

 Preparing the onions and mushrooms

White pearl onions are browned in butter and olive oil for about 10 minutes, then braised in beef stock for 40-50 minutes, until they are tender.  White button mushrooms are quartered and sautéed in butter and olive oil for 4-5 minutes until brown.

Now we wait until the meat has finished cooking, then pour out the sauce, return the beef, bacon, and vegetables to the pan and add the cooked onions and mushrooms on top.

Still cooking, checking for tender

Sauce drained, meat and vegetables returned to pot with onions and mushrooms

The sauce simmers and reduces for a bit while any fat is skimmed off the surface.  After thickening a little, it rejoins the meat and vegetables (we're getting closer now).

 Sauce back, all together now

The pot simmers, covered, for a few minutes, while the meat and vegetables are basted (stirred) with the sauce.  I serve the dish with a garden salad and either small roasted potatoes alongside or (below) over egg noodles.  Yummmm, we're going to make this again soon!

Boeuf Bourguignon over egg noodles with garden salad

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