(Beef Stew in Red Wine, with Bacon, Onions, and Mushrooms)
Continuing on with our French food adventure, Barbara asked me to make Beef, or Boeuf, Bourguignon. How hard can that be, I thought. Just throw a piece of beef into a stew pot with a bottle of wine and bake for several hours. She added one caveat. It must be done as Julia Child does it. No skipping of steps and no additions. Follow the recipe to the letter. Not my normal approach to cooking.
We had just watched "Season 10 Top Chef Boston" with Jacques Pepin and saw how the professional chefs struggled with the techniques of Julia Child. So I knew I had my work cut out for me.
However it turns out that if you follow her instructions from her cookbook "Mastering the Art of French Cooking", you really can prepare a very good beef bourguignon. It just requires patience and following her technique.
So, here goes. Boeuf Bourguignon a la Julia Child as mastered by me.
Beef Stew with Red Wine, Bacon, Onions and Mushrooms
(Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck)
3 pounds lean stewing meat...I used a top round steak...cut into 2" cubes with most visible fat and silver skin removed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 sliced carrot
1 sliced onion
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons flour
3 cups...one bottle...red wine
2-3 cups beef stock
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, mashed
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf crumbled
6 ounces bacon plus rind from salt pork
18-24 small peeled white onions...these will be prepared separately and added later
1 1/2 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup beef stock
Herb bouquet: 1 tablespoon dry parsley, 1/2 bay leaf crumbled, 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme all tied in a cheesecloth
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound quartered fresh mushrooms...these will be prepared separately and added later
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Remove the bacon and rind from the simmering water. Put the rind aside as you will put that in later. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in the casserole dish that you will be using for cooking the meal. Sauté the bacon for 2-3 minutes until lightly browned. Remove the bacon from the casserole with a slotted spoon to a side dish.
In a large skillet over high heat, melt the butter and oil. As soon as you see the foam from the butter start to subside, add the quartered mushrooms. Toss and shake the pan as you sauté the mushrooms. To get a golden brown on the mushrooms will take 7-10 minutes depending on the size of the mushrooms you are using. Salt and pepper to taste.
Once you have browned the onions, add the 1/2 cup of beef stock and herb bouquet. Bring to a simmer, cover the pan, and simmer slowly for 40-50 minutes. The liquid should be pretty much fully evaporated and the onions will be soft and tender. Salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the pan and put on the plate with the mushrooms. These will be added later in the cooking cycle.
Note: our cheesecloth "disappeared", so I had to improvise. I used a small strainer, placed the herbs in that, and placed it in the center of the skillet. It worked very well. My only adaptation of Julia's technique. I think she would have approved.