Monday, January 17, 2011

Beef Bourguignon BIRTHDAY Celebration

The birthday in question happens to be that of your favorite food blog - Blog Until Golden Brown! A whopping 108 blog posts later, and I can hardly believe an entire year has past since my first blog post.  What fun this has been!  I have some exciting new tricks up my sleeve for 2011 - including weekly posts based around local CSA veggies, and *drum roll please*, the progress of my soon-to-be brand new kitchen - a cook's dream come true! (provided everything goes well with this house we are intending to buy...so far so good, but cross your fingers for good measure)

What better way to celebrate than with a classic dish and oh-so challenging recipe by the late, great, Julia Child. In the 3 hours or so hours it takes to prepare Julia's quintessential dish, I can't help but channel my inner Julia.  I find that the Beef Bourguignon turns out best when I read the recipe aloud in my best Julia Child voice.  Naturally, this impersonation is more amusing to me that the others around who have to suffer through it if they want to eat.

I've previously made this dish and followed the recipe to a T.  This time, however, I made some adjustments.  Shame on me for toying with greatness? Perhaps, but I thought what the hell, there is already an entire bottle of red wine in the dish, let's add some red skin potatoes to it and make it extra rich - additional carbs never hurt anyone, right? Right.  So without further adieu, I give you Julia Child's Beef Bourguignon (Molly's version).
  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil
  • 8 ounces dry cured center cut smoked bacon, diced
  • 2 1/2 pounds chuck beef cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound baby carrots
  • 1 very large yellow onion, sliced and chopped
  • 3 cloves chopped garlic 
  • one pound petite red skin potatoes, cut in half
  • 1/2 cup Cognac
  • 1 (750 ml.) bottle good dry red wine (That's right, an entire bottle.  Make a note to get one for yourself as to drink as well - after all, cooking is so much more fun with a glass of wine in hand.)
  • 1 can beef broth
  • 1 tiny can tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature, divided
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 pound frozen whole onions
  • 1 pound fresh mushrooms stems discarded, caps thickly sliced

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.  Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is lightly browned. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a large plate.

Dry the beef cubes with paper towels and then sprinkle them with salt and pepper. In batches in single layers, sear the beef in the hot oil for 3 to 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove the seared cubes to the plate with the bacon and continue searing until all the beef is browned. Set aside.

Toss the carrots, potatoes and onions, 1 tablespoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of pepper in the fat in the pan and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the Cognac, stand back, and ignite with a match to burn off the alcohol. Put the meat and bacon back into the pot with the juices. 
Please excuse my photography skills - or lack there of, as this picture does not do the Cognac flame a lick of justice.  I nearly lost my eyebrows, but the pyromaniac in me thoroughly enjoyed lighting the pot on fire.
Add the bottle of wine plus enough beef broth to almost cover the meat. Add the tomato paste and thyme. Bring to a simmer, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and place it in the oven for about 1 1/4 hours or until the meat and vegetables are very tender when pierced with a fork.

Combine 2 tablespoons of butter and the flour with a fork and stir into the stew. Add the frozen onions. Saute the mushrooms in 2 tablespoons of butter for 10 minutes until lightly browned and then add to the stew. Bring the stew to a boil on top of the stove, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Season to taste.

To serve, toast some good crusty bread in the toaster or oven. Rub each slice on 1 side with a cut clove of garlic. For each serving, spoon the stew over a slice of bread and sprinkle with parsley.

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