Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Beef Bourguignon

Julia or Ina? Ina or Julia? I've seen two distinct Beef Bourguignon recipes floating around the blogging world lately. I stumbled across them when I was looking for something different to do with a chuck roast other than throw it in the CrockPot. I chose Ina's recipe for, well, for no particular reason, really. I was thrilled to use my Martha Stewart Dutch Oven again. The first time I used it, my oven braised cornish hens turned out to be one of the best things I made in all of 2008.

I have to say that the dutch oven didn't dissapoint. Maybe I did, because I was impatient. I followed readers' comments and left it in the oven for 2 hours, but I could have left it longer. The leftovers the next day were SOOOO tender and flavorful, having sat in the acidic wine for 48 hours. Also, I used center cut bacon and followed the instructions for leaving it in the pan to cook the meat and onions. When I was ready to serve this, I noticed a thick layer of oil on top of the bourguignon. I wish I would have gone with my gut feeling and drained the bacon fat after cooking the meat. The leftover oil coating the dutch oven would have been PLENTY to cook the onions and made for much less grease in the final product. Below is my modified recipe, including the changes I've noted above.

1 Tbsp olive oil
10 oz dry center cut bacon, diced
2 1/2 lb chuck beef cut into 1-inch cubes
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 lb pound baby carrots
2 yellow onions, sliced
2 cloves chopped garlic
1/2 C brandy
1 (750 ml) bottle dry red wine (love my Three Buck Chuck from Trader Joe’s!!)
1 can (2 cups) beef broth
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves (1/2 tsp dried)
2 Tbsp cornstarch, plus 1/4 C cold water
1 Tbsp butter
1 lb button mushrooms, sliced thick

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.

Heat the olive oil in a 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.

Remove the oil from the dutch oven as best you can with a spoon or baster. Toss the carrots, and onions, 1 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of pepper in the leftover grease 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 brandy, stand back, and ignite with a match to burn off the alcohol.

*WARNING: This step turned into an argument between Mr. Tote and I. When we ignited the brandy and the flames shot up as high as our over-the-stovetop microwave, I freaked out. Yadda, yadda, yadda and an apology later from Mr. Tote, we ate dinner.*

Put the meat and bacon back into the pot with the vegetables and brandy. 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 2 1/2 hours or until the meat and vegetables are very tender when pierced with a fork.

Saute the mushrooms in the Tbsp of butter for 10 minutes until lightly browned and then add to the stew. Slowly add the cornstarch and water mixture to the pot to thicken 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.

I served this with mashed potatoes the first night and egg noddles with the leftovers. This can also be served over a thick, crusty piece of toasted bread.

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