My Grand Adventure Part 3

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Beef Bourguignon 

Shameless admission here. I loved Julie and Julia and I've wanted to make Beef Bourguignon ever since. The food geek in me decided to pick up an old French provincial cookbook (not Julia Child). There are lots of recipes in it. If you want to call them that. Really, it's told more as a story that you have to pick the steps out of. From a geeky standpoint, it is amazing. From a recipe standpoint, it's maddening. But now that I've done it, I realized that good cooking isn't about the recipe. You have to get a feel for it and just go with the flow. So this mostly follows the traditional recipe but after almost pulling my hair out, I also added my own flair to it.

Here is the ingredient list from the very old book.

2lb of topside of beef, 4 oz. of salt pork or streaky bacon, a large onion, thyme, parsley and bayleaves, 1/4 pint of red wine, 1/2 pint of meat stock, preferably veal, a clove of garlic, 1 tbsp flour, meat dripping. For garnish, 1/2 lb of small mushrooms, a dozen or so small whole onions.

I just realized something frightening. Those 1/4, 1/2, etc. are very small print and look like a 1. So I put in 1 pint of red wine, 1 pint of meat stock, and 1 lb of mushrooms. Whoops. Well, like I said, crash and burn potential is huge.

I have no clue what topside of beef is. So I bought a top roast of some sort that looked good and was the right size. Mine is closer to 3 lbs.

Cut it into cubes. I realized when I was cutting that this recipe would probably work fine with stew meat as a cheaper alternative.

Coat liberally with salt and pepper and put herbs on top. I used thyme, parsley, bayleaves, and rosemary. The rosemary wasn't called for but it just felt right.

Pour in the olive oil and one QUARTER pint of wine. This is a whole pint of wine. Drunken beef.

Top it with a whole sliced onion. Cover and let it marinate for 3-6 hours. Mine marinated overnight.

Now. Pearl onions. I hate peeling pearl onions. But the snooty French recipe said if you didn't have pearl onions, you just shouldn't bother with onions at all because regular onions weren't fit for garnish. Well prissy. Fine. I will peel the little stupid onions.

Strain the meat but DON'T THROW AWAY THE LIQUID! Take all the meat out and put it to one side. Also save the herbs. You're done with the onions that aren't fit for garnish. Can you hear me rolling my eyes?

 Cook the bacon and brown the onions in a heavy stew pot. Yay for the new dutch oven again! Umm, some of mine got a little too brown while I was fussing with the garlic. Also, for some reason my bacon didn't create much grease. So I threw in a couple of tablespoons of butter. It's French. Butter is good.

 Take the onions and bacon out and put the meat in the pot. The pseudo recipe says to dry the beef first but I am not wasting that much of my life. One big piece of beef? Yes. Tons of little cubes of beef? Heck no. Dust with flour and mix that all up.

Pour the marinade liquid in the pot along with one HALF pint of beef (veal, HA) stock. This is a whole pint of beef stock plus the pint of wine. Wonderful. Throw the herbs from the marinade in there along with the one clove of garlic. Sorry, I don't do one clove. There are 6 or 7 in there. Slowly simmer for 2 hours. Yes. 2 hours. The snooty book says that it's good to do the first two hours ahead of time and then cool it off and stick it in the refrigerator. So that's what I did. Warm it back up 30-45 minutes before dinnertime.

Brown the mushrooms in some butter.

Then dump the onions, bacon, and mushrooms into the pot and simmer for another half hour.

And here we go! Beef Bourguignon, Jessie style!