Monday, May 14, 2012

Daring Cooks May 2012: Boeuf Bourguignon

Sorry for the blurs- this was an "oh yeah, I have to take a photo" moment. 

Our May 2012 Daring Cooks’ hostess was Fabi of fabsfood. Fabi challenged us to make Boeuf Bourguignon, a classic French stew originating from the Burgundy region of France.

I'll admit that the moment I read this month's challenge, I made a noise best described as a squeal. Boeuf Bourguignon has been on my "kitchen bucket list" for a long time. It is one of those recipes that I haven't had a reason to make until now, although another perfect reason presented itself after the challenge was posted.

Mother's day is a chance for us to give a little back to our mothers, although there is really no way to even begin to match all that they have done. This year we decided to let my mother in law sit back and have someone cook (and clean up afterwards) for her- Boeuf Bourguignon seemed like a perfect meal.

This was delicious and will definitely be made again. I baked a couple loaves of French bread to go along with the dish and also served a light butterscotch/ caramel dessert.

Without further ado: the recipe!

Boeuf Bourguignon (a la Julia Child)

A 6-inch chunk of bacon
3 lbs lean stewing beef, cut into 2 inch cubes
1 sliced carrot
1 sliced onion
3 cups of a full-bodied young red wine such as Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone, Burgundy 
2 to 3 cups brown beef stock or bouillon
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves mashed garlic
1/2 teaspon thyme
1 bay leaf (Julia says crumbled, but I left it whole so it could be easily removed)
18-24 small white onions, peeled
A medium herb bouquet: 4 parsley sprigs, ½ bay leaf, ¼ tsp thyme tied in cheesecloth
1 lb quartered fresh mushrooms

1. Remove bacon rind, cut into lardons (sticks, ¼ inch thick and 1½ inches long). Simmer rind and bacon for 10 minutes in 1½ quarts water. Drain and dry. Preheat oven to 450°F.

2. In a 9-10 inch fireproof casserole dish, sauté bacon only in 1 Tablespoon olive oil over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon. Set casserole aside. Reheat until fat is almost smoking before you sauté the beef. 

3. Dry the beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Sauté it, a few pieces at a time, in the hot  oil and bacon fat until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the bacon.

4. In the same fat, brown the sliced onion and carrot. Pour out the sautéing fat. 

5. Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly with the flour. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of  the preheated oven for 3 minutes. Toss the meat and return to oven for 4 minutes more. (This browns the flour and covers the meat with a light crust.) Remove casserole and turn oven down to 325°F.

6. Stir in the wine and enough stock or bouillon so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs and bacon rind. Bring to simmer on top of the stove. Then cover the casserole and set in lower third of preheated oven. Regulate heat so liquid simmers slowly for 2 ½ to 3 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily. 

7. While the beef is cooking prepare the onions and mushrooms. 

8. For the onions: heat 1½ tablespoon and 1½ tablespoon oil in a skillet. When butter and oil are bubbling, add the onions and sauté  over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling the onions so they brown as evenly as possible. Be careful not to break their skins. Pour in about ½ cup of brown stock or beef bouillon and add the herb bouquet. Cover and simmer slowly for 40-50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender, but retain their shape and the liquid has evaporated. Remove the herb bouquet. Set onions aside. 

9. For the mushrooms: place skillet over high heat with 2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon oil. As soon as you see that the butter foam has begun to subside, add the mushrooms. Toss and shake the pan for 4-5 minutes. As soon as they have browned lightly, remove from heat. 

10. When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan. Wash out the casserole and return the beef and bacon to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms over the meat. 

11. Skim fat off the sauce. Simmer sauce for a minute or two, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2½ cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mx in a few tablespoon of stock or canned bouillon. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables. 
12. Cover the casserole and simmer for 2-3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times. Serve  with potatoes, noodles, or rice and decorated with a few springs of fresh parsley. 


  1. Wow, it looks like your onions were even tinier than mine! I read on someone's blog that you can actually buy frozen, peeled tiny onions in the States, so keep an eye out for them and you'll never have to peel tiny onions again ;)

  2. Awesome job!! Your BB looks sooo delicious!

  3. Good for you! This is something I've been wanting to make for a while, but haven't yet. Looks great!

  4. This looks and sounds really tasty. Your mother in law is a lucky lady to have someone cook and clean up for her on Mother's Day.

  5. Such an interesting story to read and I enjoyed reading it as well. Keep up the good work. Spice Tropical