I sometimes make things hard on myself when having friends over for dinner. By that I mean I sometimes will attempt some fairly involved dishes for the first time. These photographs represent one of those times. No regrets. I love flexing new muscles.
I have always been curious about Boeuf Bourguignon, and when a colleague told me about making it for her family as a celebration of her own birthday, I started to obsess.
Just to warn you... this is pretty involved, includes three or four pan deglazings, and requires a lot of hands on time... and you must respect the "mis en place," especially the first time you make it. Do not be intimidated though. This is not at all difficult if you are organized (which does not come easily to me when I first attempt a new dish). Fortunately, this dish tastes even better when you do most of the work a day in advance and reduce the sauce and add the vegetables on the second day. The results are so worth it.
6 ounces of extra thick bacon or salt pork, cut into 1/4 by 1 inch strips
3 C water
10 sprigs of fresh parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
6 sprigs of fresh thyme
3 large fresh sage sprigs
3 large fresh rosemary sprigs
An old parmesan rind (optional)
2 medium white, sweet, or brown onions, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, coarsely chopped
1 head of garlic, with the cloves separated and crushed. There is no need to peel the cloves
2 crumbled bay leaves
1 tsp black peppercorns
4 pound beef chuck roast. trimmed, patted dry with paper towels, cut into two inch pieces, and seasoned with salt and pepper
1 C water, divided into 2 half cups
4 T unsalted butter cut into 4 pieces
1/3 C unbleached flour
1 3/4 C low sodium chicken broth
1 T beef demi glace (optional)
1 1/2 C water
1 bottle red burgundy, chianti, or pinot noir
1 tsp tomato paste
salt and pepper to taste
4 to 8 large carrots, peeled and sliced into 2 inch pieces (optional)
7 ounces of frozen pearl onions
1 T unsalted butter
1 T sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 C water
10 ounces of small white mushrooms, washed
1/4 C water
2 T brandy
Fresh parsley leaves, minced to sprinkle over each plate
- Bring salt pork or bacon to boil in the water in a saucepan and boil for about two minutes. Drain and pat dry.
- Securely wrap and tie the parsley, thyme, sage, rosemary, optional parmesan, onions, carrots, garlic bay leaves, and peppercorns in two 22 inch lengths of cheesecloth. Set in the bottom of an oven proof 8-quart enameled cast iron or stainless steel Dutch oven.
- Place a rack in the lower third of your oven and preheat it to 300 degrees F.
- Over medium heat, saute the salt pork/bacon in a 12 inch skillet over medium heat until light brown and crisp (about 12 minutes).
- With a spider or slotted spoon, remove the salt pork/bacon from the pan and add it to the Dutch oven.
- Drain the fat from the skillet (do not discard yet) and add back 2 tsp. Heat the skillet on high and brown half of the beef until deep brown on all sides, about 7 minutes total. Transfer the browned beef to the Dutch oven.
- Pour one cup of water into the skillet to deglaze. Scrape up all of the brown bits with a wooden spoon. Pour the liquid into the Dutch oven.
- Add 2 tsp of the reserved drippings to the skillet and reheat on high. Brown the rest of the beef as before. Add the beef to the Dutch oven. Deglaze the skillet again with 1/2 C of water and add to the Dutch oven.
- Add the 4 T of butter to the skillet and heat on medium. When the butter stops foaming, add the flour and whisk constantly for about 5 minutes, until the mixture looks like light colored caramel or peanut butter.
- Slowly whisk in the chicken broth, demi glace, and water. Bring to a simmer, stirring regularly, until it thickens. Add the thickened broth to the Dutch oven.
- Add 3 C of wine, tomato paste, salt. and pepper to the Dutch oven. Stir. Heat the Dutch oven on high and bring it to a boil. Cover the Dutch oven and place it in the oven for 3 hours. Add the optional carrots at two hours.
- Remove the Dutch oven from the oven and remove the cheesecloth wrapped herb packet. Place it into a strainer over the Dutch oven and squeeze out all of the liquid. Discard the packet.
- Remove the beef and optional carrots from the Dutch oven and wrap in heavy duty foil and refrigerate.
- Chill the liquid in the Dutch oven overnight.
- Remove the Dutch oven and the beef/carrot packet from the refrigerator. Skim the fat from top of the liquid. Bring the liquid to a boil and simmer, stirring occasionally until the sauce has reduced to about three cups. The sauce should be the consistency of heavy cream. This should take about 15 to 25 minutes.
- Meanwhile, bring the onions, butter, sugar, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/2 C water to a boil in a 10 inch skillet on high heat. Cover the skillet and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer for about five minutes. Uncover and increase the heat to high and cook the onions until all of the water evaporates. Add the mushrooms and the rest of the salt. Cook for about five minutes, until the mushroom liquid evaporates and the onions and mushrooms are browned. Transfer them to a large plate.
- Add 1/4 C water to the pan and deglaze. Add that liquid to the simmering Dutch oven.
- When the Dutch oven sauce is reduced to 3 cups and is the right thickness, add the beef and carrots, onions and mushrooms (plus any juices), the rest of the wine, and brandy. Cover and cook until heated, about 8 minutes. Add additional salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve over boiled potatoes, noodles, rice, or mashed potatoes, and sprinkle with minced parsley.
My bonus cooking lesson take-away from preparing this dish? The magic of deglazing a pan. I had no idea! You will think twice about using nonstick pans so you can capture the flavors from those magic brown bits. Added bonus, I sometimes use the deglazing method to clean skillets. It's a beautiful thing.
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated, January, 2001 and Bon Appetit, September, 1999.