We eat a lot of roast chicken.
So last weekend, when he said he really wanted Boeuf Bourguignon, I reported this impostor directly to the police. No, I was more than thrilled NOT to be roasting a chicken, but I was a little intimidated by what the Boeuf Bourguignon might require. I imagined many little steps that would take many long hours.
If you’ve never made or eaten Boeuf Bourguignon, it’s not haute cuisine. It’s a French beef stew, a peasant dish that was probably originally slow-cooked for hours to compensate for the toughness of meat.
In this version (from Ina Garten’s “Barefoot in Paris”), the beef is braised in red wine, beef broth and Cognac in a pot full of carrots, sliced onions, garlic, tomato paste and thyme and then garnished with pearl onions and sautéed mushrooms. It’s so full of flavor, you just want to curl up with it on a cold night and watch “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” for the 15th time and debate whether a thick white sheepskin area rug would be too pimp for the living room or just pimp enough.
Layering this much flavor takes time – about two hours – but it’s worth it, especially if you’re entertaining a few friends the following night, when the stew will taste even better.
You just can’t say that about a roast chicken.
Adapted from Ina Garten’s “Barefoot in Paris”
Makes 6 servings
- 1 tablespoon good olive oil
- 8 ounces bacon, diced
- 2 1/2 pounds chuck beef cut into 1-inch cubes
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound carrots, sliced diagonally into 1-inch chunks
- 2 yellow onions, sliced
- 2 teaspoons chopped garlic (2 cloves)
- 1/2 cup Cognac
- 1 (750 ml.) bottle good dry red wine such as Cote du Rhone or Pinot Noir
- 1 can (2 cups) beef broth
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature, divided
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 pound frozen pearl onions
- 1/2 to 1 pound fresh mushrooms, stems discarded, caps thickly sliced
- Country bread or sourdough, toasted or grilled and rubbed with garlic clove
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, optional
- Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
- Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the diced bacon, and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is lightly browned. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the bacon to a large plate.
- Dry the beef cubes with paper towels, and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. In batches in single layers, sear the beef in the hot oil for 3 to 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Transfer the seared cubes to the plate with the bacon, and continue searing until all the beef is browned. Set aside.
- Toss the carrots, onions, 1 tablespoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of pepper in the fat in the pan. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
- Add the Cognac, stand back, and ignite with a match to burn off the alcohol. Return the beef and bacon to the pot with the juices.
- Add the wine and enough beef broth to almost cover the meat. Add the tomato paste and thyme. Bring to a simmer, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and place it in the oven for about 1 1/4 hours or until the meat and vegetables are very tender when pierced with a fork.
- Combine 2 tablespoons of butter and the flour with a fork, and stir into the stew. Add the frozen onions.
- In a separate skillet, saute the mushrooms in 2 tablespoons of butter for 10 minutes until lightly browned, and then add to the stew.
- Bring the stew to a boil on top of the stove, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Season to taste.
- To serve, toast the bread in the toaster or oven. Rub each slice on 1 side with a cut clove of garlic. For each serving, spoon the stew over a slice of bread, and sprinkle with parsley.