When it turned cool over the weekend, I started thinking about satisfying winter comfort food. To me "comfort" = beef, and consequently thoughts turned to Beef Bourguignon. To be honest, these thoughts were helped along by the fact that my husband bought a package of pearl onions because they looked cute (yes, he said the word "cute") in the produce section, and brought them home with no clue as to what he was going to do with them. Enter me, and my recipe for Beef Bourguignon. It's not an original; I use this recipe from Epicurious. I'm not going to kid you here, it's a lot of work, but if you start it on a Sunday, and employ the use of a Crockpot, you’ll be rewarded with two days where the house smells so delicious you’ll almost swoon, plus a lovely dinner for you and your family, with perhaps enough left over to freeze for a cold night mid-winter. For the sake of convenience I'm reprinting the recipe below. I'm adding my notes, that I think enhances the flavor and makes it a bit less daunting. (I cut the recipe in half; it came out beautifully and made plenty.)
Bon Appétit | May 1994
8 ounces bacon, coarsely chopped*
3 pounds well-trimmed boneless beef chuck, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes (from 7-bone chuck roast)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 pounds boiling onions, peeled
3/4 pound large carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces**
12 large garlic cloves, peeled (left whole)
3 cups canned beef broth***
1/2 cup Cognac or brandy
2 750-ml bottles red Burgundy wine
1 1/4 pounds mushrooms****
1/3 cup chopped fresh thyme or 2 tablespoons dried
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Preheat oven to 325°F. Sauté bacon in heavy large Dutch oven over high heat until brown and crisp, about 8 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels. Season beef generously with salt and pepper; coat with 1/3 cup flour, using all of flour. Working in 3 batches, brown beef in same pot over high heat, about 5 minutes per batch. Transfer meat to large bowl. Add onions and carrots to same pot and sauté until light brown, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute. Transfer vegetables to bowl with beef.
Add 1 cup broth and Cognac to pot; boil until reduced to glaze, scraping up browned bits, about 8 minutes. Return meat and vegetables and their juices to pot. Add wine, mushrooms, thyme, sugar, tomato paste and 2 cups broth. Bring to boil, stirring occasionally. Cover pot and place in oven. Cook until beef is tender, about 1 hour 20 minutes.+
Ladle liquid from stew into large saucepan. Spoon off fat. Boil liquid until reduced to 2 3/4 cups, about 40 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Pour liquid back over beef and vegetables. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.) Rewarm over low heat before serving.
*Nowhere in the recipe does it mention what to do with the bacon; I added it with the beef.
**I used baby carrots. They are less work (no chopping) and make for a better presentation.
***I made broth from Better than Bouillon beef concentrate.
****I used large button mushrooms that I quartered.
+ At this point I dumped the entire mixture into a Crockpot and cooked it on high for 2-1/2 hours. After allowing it to cool, I strained the juices from the meat and vegetable mixture and stored them separately in the refrigerator until the next day. This made removing the fat a breeze as it rises to the top and solidifies and can be easily lifted off with a large spoon and discarded. The next day I boiled down the juices, then added the meat and vegetables and heated through. While the mixture was warming I made the rice.
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