Monday, April 19, 2010

Boeuf Bourguignon

Burgundy is one of France's most famous gastronomic regions. A La Bourguignonne is a French term meaning "as prepared in Burgundy". Boeuf Bourguignon is a beef stew braised in red wine with root vegetables and onions. This recipe was fashioned after the Boeuf Bourguignon served at Anthony Bourdain's NYC restaurant, Les Halles.

2lb. Beef Shoulder, cut into 2" pieces
1/4 C. Olive Oil
4 Onions, sliced
2 Tbsp. Flour
1 C. Red Wine
6 Carrots, cut into 1" pieces
1 Garlic Clove
Salt & Pepper
1 Bouquet Garni*

*A bunch of herbs, classically being 1 sprig of flat leaf parsley, 2 sprigs of fresh thyme, and 1 bay leaf, that are either tied together with string or placed in a cheesecloth and used to flavor soups, stews and broths. Tying or bagging the herbs allows for their easy removal before the dish is served.

Season the meat with salt and pepper. In a heavy bottomed pot, heat the oil over high heat. Sear the meat in batches. You want to get some nice color on the meat. If you add all the meat at once, you'll "crowd the pot" and cool it down which won't retain enough heat to properly sear the beef. Remove the meat and set aside to sear the next batch. When all the meat is dark brown and set aside, add the onions to the pot. Lower the heat to medium high until the onions are soft and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the onions and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring. The flour will bond with the fat from the oil to create a roux which thickens and produces delicious "fond" on the bottom of the pan. Scrape up all the fond with a wooden spoon and deglaze with the red wine. Bring the red wine to a boil.

Return the meat to the pot and add the carrots, garlic, and bouquet garni. Add just enough water to cover the meat by one third - meaning you want a ratio of 3 parts liquid to 2 parts meat. Stews should have plenty of liquid, even after reducing. Bring to a boil, reduce to a gentle simmer, and let cook for about 2 hours. You can add some beef stock or demi-glace if you'd like, but remember that they're generally pretty salty, so bare that in mind when seasoning your meat in the beginning.

Check the stew every 20 minutes, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot to avoid scorching. When finished, remove and discard the bouquet garni, add the chopped parsley and serve. This stew is amazingly flavorful the following day. It's delicious when served right out of the pot, but the flavors marry incredibly well in the cooler overnight.

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