Friday, October 23, 2009

Cheers to Julia Child and the Bouef Bourguignon

Reading the ingredients of Boeuf Bourguignon in “Mastering the Art of French Cooking I thought, “this sounds a lot like beef stew” and you know what…it is…but when prepared as written…it isn’t.  Yes, they both use beef cubes, carrots, onions, wine, beef broth and mushrooms, but the transformation of these ingredients is so way different.
I always knew about drying off the meat before browning it, otherwise it puts off too much juice and simply boils.  Also doing the meat in batches, again so it has some breathing room to allow it to brown.  But here is what really makes this dish so different from Beef Stew…
1. Simmering the bacon for 10 minutes; removes some fat, but mostly some of the smokiness and salt.  Big difference.  I just used 6 ounces of thick sliced bacon, since I couldn’t find and didn’t have the time to order a chuck of bacon with rind.  Not sure if that made a huge difference in flavor, I’m going to guess not.
2. Thinly slicing the carrot and onion; they simply melted into the rich sauce.
3. Browning the meat, then adding the salt, pepper and flour and putting it in a hot (425 degree oven) for 8 minutes, stirring once at the half-way mark (that would be 4 minutes)…really did cook the flour without burning – what a great technique.
4. Browning and braising the pearl onions and adding them at the end.  This gave them a wonderful depth of flavor. BTW – you can peel the onions or even use frozen ones.  If using frozen, be sure to thaw them out and pat them dry before browning them.
Richly browned and braised onions
Richly browned and braised onions
5. Browning the mushroom pieces in butter and adding them to the sauce at the end.  See above. And for those of you who know me well, yes, I did taste one.
Mushrooms
Mushrooms
I did not, however, pour the sauce through a colander and skim the fat, as I really didn’t have much fat.  I think the meats we have today are so much leaner than when the recipe was written, so no fat to skim, and one less pot to wash.  Actually, if time allows, the best way to do this is to put the casserole in the refrigerator overnight (makes the flavors just that much more friendly with each other) then skim any fat off the top the next day, or even the day after that, before you reheat it.  Beef Stew and Boeuf Bourguignon are both dishes that are better as “left-overs).
Bouef Bourguignon
Boeuf Bourguignon
Beef Stew generally has potatoes in it.  Boeuf Bourguignon is usually served with either boiled potatoes, buttered noodles or even steamed rice…but I chose to serve it with some of Rough Mashed Garlic Red Potatoes…it was a great choice.
Boeuf Bourguignon with Rough Mashed Garlic Potatoes
Now, let me warn you.  This dish is not a quick to prepare any night meal, although as I said, it can be prepared in advance and then reheated.  But you need to allow yourself at least an hour, just to properly prepare and brown the meat.  Then 3 hours in the oven…of course if you have a pressure cooker, you could have it cooked in 1 rather that 3 hours…
LindySez: Bon Appetit. And thank you Julia for such a delish Beef Stew in Red Wine, with Bacon, Onions and Mushrooms.
Rough Mashed Garlic Red Potatoes
Make sure you don’t peel the potatoes.  The skin stays on to add flavor and color.
1  pound small red potatoes
4 cloves garlic
1 cup cream or half and half (or milk, or low fat milk if you must), or as needed
1/4 cup unsalted butter
Salt and pepper, to taste
Cook the potatoes in salted water with the garlic cloves until the potatoes are tender.  Drain well and return to the pan, place the pan over low heat and shake to dry the potatoes out.  When the potatoes are dry and starchy looking, add the butter and mash with a potato masher, adding cream until they are your desired consistency.  Taste and add salt and pepper, stir and serve.

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