Boeuf Bourguignon

December is upon is. It seems as though D.C. weather finally took the hint, as temps dropped drastically this past week–going from 60-degree days to the 40s. Not that I’m complaining– I like winter to be cold. After all, it provides a perfect excuse to test a whole bunch of soup recipes and serves as a happy reminder that Christmas and, hopefully, a few snowflakes are just around the corner. The problem with December, however, is that it also brings final exams. In other words, I am going on a wee bit of a blogging hiatus. Don’t worry–Megan and Liz are still around, and I’ll be back with holiday cookie recipes galore after Dec. 17th.

As an apology gift, I give you this recipe for a delicious boeuf bourguignon. For those of you who know a thing or two about Julia Child, this was pretty much her dish. I’ve yet to tackle her recipe, but I did eat a great version of this dish when visiting Paris and have loved it ever since. It pretty much meets my requirement for a hearty stew, and it’s full of well-developed earthy flavors.

This recipe is simpler than Julia’s (which you can find here), but it’s pretty damn good. Most of the basics are the same. It’s just scaled down for a weeknight meal. The best part (other than how it tastes) is how wonderful your apartment will smell while it cooks. Nothing motivates a law student to outline Contracts like the smell of beef stew in the oven (well, minus the promise of more wine).

This is by no means a “quick-cooking” recipe, but it is easy to put together and to throw in the oven. Go do laundry, read a book, or wrap some presents while this cooks. It is totally worth it.

Happy Eating 🙂

Boeuf Bourguignon
 As with most recipes involving wine, the alcohol cooks off. You can theoretically replace the wine with more stock, but that makes it just a beef stew. It’ll still be delicious, but it will lack the complexity of the red wine. Also, don’t feel like you have to use an expensive cut of meat. The beauty of slow-cooking is that even the toughest cuts become ridiculously tender. 

Ingredients:

  • ¾ to 1 lb beef, cut into cubes (the stewing pieces work just fine)
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ½ lb cremini mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 onion, chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ tablespoon tomato paste
  • Just over ½ cup baby carrots
  • 1 russet potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1½ cups beef broth
  • ½ to ¾ cup red wine (do NOT use cooking wine–only the stuff you’d drink)
  • 5 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • Salt and pepper

Directions: 

  • Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • In a large, Ziploc bag, combine 2 tablespoons flour, ¼ teaspoon salt and  ¼  teaspoon pepper. Toss a bit to combine, then add in your beef cubes. Close the bag and shake until all of the cubes are well coated in flour.

  • Heat a dutch oven or large oven-proof pot with tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat. Add your oil and heat until is almost smoking. Using tons, transfer the beef cubes into the pot. Brown the pieces on all sides. Don’t turn them until they stop sticking to the pot. You want to develop the fond (brown bits on the bottom of the pot). Once all the beef is browned, transfer to a plate and set aside.

What your beef should look like

What your pot should look like: look at that fond!

  • In the same pot (without cleaning in between), melt your butter. Once the foaming subsides, add in your mushrooms and the leaves from one sprig of thyme. Cook until browned. If the fond looks like it might burn, add a splash of red wine or broth and a few of the onions and scrape some of it up. This will allow the mushrooms to continue developing flavor and add complexity to the dish. Once browned, transfer the mushrooms to the same plate as the beef.

  • In your now empty and fond coated pot, add your garlic. Allow to cook for a minute, then add your tomato paste. Cook for an additional minute before adding ½ cup of the beef broth.  Scrape up all of the fond that has formed and stir until the broth and tomato paste are combined.
  • Whisk 1 tablespoon flour into the remaining broth.

  • Add the thyme, carrots, onions, mushrooms, beef, flour/broth mixture, and red wine. Stir to combine. The beef and vegetables should be just barely covered with liquid. If necessary, add some more liquid (I used some more red wine for this…)

  • Cover the pot and transfer to the oven. Cook until the beef is very, very tender–about 2½ hours.
  • Taste and adjust for salt and pepper and serve warm.

Serves 3-4.

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