The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Just in Time for More Snow, Cooking Up Boeuf Bourguignon

Posted on | February 24, 2010 | Written by Tida Lenoel | No Comments

In addition to my love of wine, I also love cooking. And one of my favorite things is to marry both passions by cooking with a wine and then drinking that wine with dinner—for example, this time of year I love to make Boeuf Bourguignon. This meat-and-wine stew has gotten a lot of press lately with its star presence in the recent film Julie and Julia, but I assure you that I was cooking it long before the movie came out. There is something about it that reminds me of home and warms my soul. It’s quite a time consuming dish, but not complicated at all. The casserole cooks for around three hours to give all the flavors enough time to melt together and to make the beef so soft that it pulls apart. One trick I’ve learned is to transfer the mixture to a crock-pot to cook so that I don’t have to spend all day in the kitchen watching the oven.

I like to choose the freshest ingredients, preferably from the farmer’s market, and I choose a wine that I would actually drink. It doesn’t have to be an expensive Giacosa Barolo, so I choose something I would pop open for a movie night. My theory is if you don’t use quality ingredients from the start, you’re not going to end up with a quality dish. Even if I’m committed to using high-quality meat, I’m more flexible on the type of wine, and sometimes I even use wine left over from multiple bottles. Below is a Julia Child-inspired recipe you can use as a guideline, but don’t be afraid to modify it for your own purposes! I know I like mine with more carrots, and I add vegetables like celery and peas. I also like to pour mine over some delicious egg noodles.

Boeuf Bourguignon:

  • 6 ounces bacon
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil or cooking oil
  • 3 pounds lean stewing beef, cut into bite-sized cubes
  • 2 chopped carrots
  • 2 chopped celery
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup of peas, cooked
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • 3 cups full-bodied wine like Chianti
  • 3 cups brown beef stock
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 4 cloves mashed garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 18 pearl onions, braised in stock
  • 1 pound quartered fresh mushrooms, sautéed in butter
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • egg noodles
  • parsley

Directions:

Dice the bacon in small pieces and cook with oil in the casserole over medium heat until brown, about 3 minutes. Remove the bacon from the pan, drain it, and put bacon in a separate dish. Heat the oil and bacon fat until it gets really hot.

Make sure the beef is dry (to ensure a nice brown color), put it in the casserole and brown on all sides. Remove and combine with the bacon in the separate dish.

Lower the heat under the bacon fat, and then add the chopped carrots, celery, and onion to the oil and bacon fat and sauté until brown and slightly soft. Remove the excess fat.

Put the beef and bacon back into the casserole and add the salt and pepper. Sift in the flour and cook for a few minutes to reduce the starchy taste of the flour.

Add the wine and beef stock until it just barely covers the beef. Next put in the smashed garlic pieces, herbs and tomato paste. Turn up the heat and bring the entire mixture to a simmer.

Transfer the mixture to your crock-pot and cook on medium for three or more hours.

The meat should pull apart very easily when done.

While you wait for the beef, prepare the braised pearl onions, sautéed mushrooms, and peas—you’ll add all these at the end.

When the meat is done, strain the mixture over a saucepan and return the mixture to the casserole dish. Add the pearl onions, mushrooms, and peas to the casserole.

Bring the sauce to a simmer while skimming off the excess fat. Then—and I know this feels counter-intuitive-add the butter to the sauce mixture and cook until the sauce can coat the back of a spoon. If you prefer a thicker sauce, reduce it for longer, or if you like it thinner, add some beef broth.

While you do this, bring water to a boil in a pot and cook the egg noodles.

When the sauce is ready, pour it back over the meat and vegetables. Mix it all up and ladle over a bed of egg noodles. Sprinkle with some parsley. Delicious.

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