Monday, January 10, 2011
The Holidays Unwrapped Part Three: A Family Thing
Here's the last of my 2010 holiday recap. Regular programming to resume...sometime.
Christmas is supposed to be about family, which is why I'm starting my little 2010 holiday retrospective with the only meal we shared with my own flesh and blood. Brother S. was passing through town a couple of days after marking the holidays with the rest of the clan out west and dropped in for dinner, so another festive meal was in order.
I love my one-pot dishes, and as far as I'm concerned, Beef Bourguignon is the king of stews. With Bourguignon, you taste pretty much everything that goes into the pot, so you really need to bring your game: decent wine, good quality meat and fresh ingredients are a must. This recipe borrows a bit from a few different sources, including Julia Child's from "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" (as an aside, one of the worst things about that terrible "Julie and Julia" film was how the twit Julie and her dullard boyfriend kept pronouncing "bouef" as "boof", like someone was punching them in the stomach. But I digress.) Ideally, you want to do this a day ahead, as the flavours really need time to come together.
Beef Bourguignon Serves 6
4 slices good quality smoked bacon, chopped into one-inch chunks
1 ½ pounds beef chuck cut into one-inch cubes
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1-2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ cup beef stock
1 large onion, chopped
3 large cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
4 or 5 medium carrots, cut diagonally into 3/4-inch slices
1 bottle dry red wine (3 cups)
½ teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 pounds small brown mushrooms, stems trimmed and halved
8 ounces (1½ cups) pearl onions, blanched and peeled
1 tablespoon olive oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper
In a large pot or Dutch oven, fry bacon until browned. With a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a paper-towel-lined plate; set aside. Reserve bacon fat.
Season beef generously with salt and pepper and dust with flour. Add beef in batches to the fat in the pan (don’t crowd the pan) and brown for a good five to 10 minutes per batch. Take care not to burn the flour that will stick to the bottom of the pan. Transfer browned meat to a plate and set aside.
Add stock to pan and bring to a boil. Cook and scrape up brown bits on the bottom, until liquid has reduced to a few tablespoons, 2 to 3 minutes.
Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring, until slightly softened. Add tomato paste; cook 1 minute.
Add carrots, meat (with juices), wine, thyme, bay leaves and reserved bacon. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer over low, stirring occasionally, until meat is tender, but not falling apart, approximately 3 hours.
Meanwhile, toss mushrooms with onions and olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Add to a baking sheet or shallow roasting pan and roast in a 425F oven for about 30 minutes until mushrooms are brown and onions are tender.
Skim fat off surface of stew and discard. Stir in mushrooms and onions and season with salt and pepper. Serve over mashed, boiled or roasted potatoes or egg noodles.