It may not be Julia Child’s recipe, but I’ve made Beef Bourguignon a few times and I absolutely love it. And, it is amazing. And it makes me feel cool. And it’s incredibly rich and hearty. I’m in love. In fact, I’ve developed a ‘scale’ to judge how good each meal I make tastes. This Beef Bourguignon is the 10 at which I set my scale. That should tell you something…those French people know a thing or two about cooking! A couple of things to know before we start:
1.) This recipe takes at least 18 hours to marinade, then another 3-4 hours to prepare and cook.
2.) There are several steps to this dish, each taking time and careful watching to turn out right. Pay attention and take your time.
3.) You will need cheese cloth and some kitchen twine for this recipe.
4.) Your kitchen will smell amazing and the neighbors may pop over uninvited as a result. Sorry.
Now, print out the recipe and follow along!!!
Begin with about 2 lbs of chuck roast. I used 2.5 for this recipe. Chop it into cubes, about 1 inch in size.
Chop up some celery, carrots and onion as well. You can add mushrooms if you like, but JJ doesn’t do the ‘shrooms so I omitted them.
Dump 2 bottles (yes BOTTLES) of wine into a large metal bowl. I once heard that you should never cook with a wine you wouldn’t drink, however I do not have the budget of the person who said that, so I used Two-Buck-Chuck from Trader Joes (okay…actually, that is the wine that I drink, but you get my point. I mean – I’m sure Beef Bourguignon tastes amazing when made with a couple bottles of Opus One, but…yeah right). Add the meat and veggies to the wine as well as the garlic.
Now time to make the sachet of spices. Take the parsley, peppercorns (I coarsely ground up mine), thyme (use dried if you don’t have fresh) and bay leaf and place them in your piece of cheese cloth. I had a loose-nit cheese cloth so I folded it over once to prevent spices falling out.
Once you’re loaded up, simply gather the corners and tie it tightly with kitchen twine, or any type of plain ol’ string. Place it in the bowl with the meat, veggies and wine.
Cover the bowl and marinade in the refrigerator overnight, or at least 18 hours. I usually let mine sit for at least 24, since the wine needs time to break down the tough meat.
When you’re about 3 hours away from eating, it’s time to start cooking. Take the bowl out of the fridge and open the lid…this is when things start to smell fantastic! Strain the meat and veggies out of the wine, but SAVE THE WINE. Separate the meat from the vegetables….
…and generously season the meat with coarse sea salt and pepper. Set aside for the moment.
Take the wine and place it in a large sauce pan.
Bring it to a boil and skim off the foam that comes up on the top (kinda gross). Scoop it all off and discard the foam. Remove the wine from the heat and set aside.
In a separate, heavy bottomed pot, heat the canola oil. Make sure it’s good and hot before you start to cook the meat (do the water test: drop a few drips of water into the oil; if it splatters, it’s hot enough). In this pot you are going to brown (not cook, just brown) the meat. Add the meat pieces to the pot, one at a time being careful not to crowd the pot. Brown each side of the cubes. It took me about 3 ‘batches’ before I had all of my meat browned. It takes about 1 minute per side to brown the meat…don’t overdo it. (Have a plate nearby to remove the browned pieces to once finished).
Once the meat is done, cook the bacon (if you choose to do so…we did not. Don’t ask me why. I actually feel a little weird about not using it) then add the veggies to the pot ant let them get a little color. 5-7 minutes should do it.
Now, take your Brandy (a whole cup!!) and deglaze the pot. Basically, dump the brandy into the hot pan with the veggies and use your spoon to scrape all they yummy bits off the bottom of the pot. The alcohol should cook off pretty quickly, leaving the flavor of the brandy for the stew.
Dump in the wine, chicken stock and meat.
Bring it to a boil, then reduce it to a simmer. Let it cook for 1 1/2 hours or until the meat is tender. Long and slow is the key here, so make sure you leave enough time for this to have a good soak in the pot.
When the meat is tender (remove a piece from the pot and poke it firmly with your finger – if your finger squashes through it easily, it’s done) it is time to add the flour. I mix my flour with chicken stock (or water) first because I’m horrible at adding it straight-up without getting lumps. This is optional…you can sprinkle the flour on top of the stew and stir it in if you wish.
Mix it in and let the stew simmer for about 30 more minutes. You might taste it at this point and add any salt and pepper you feel it needs.
Once things are thickened up a little, it’s time to eat!! This dish (not surprisingly) goes fantastically with homemade french bread. And the leftovers are even better. I’m getting hungry all over again, just writing this post!
Enjoy and I hope you are able to impress someone with this dish…even if its just yourself!