Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Boeuf Bourguignon a la Julia Child with a Few Twists by Moi :0)

I would like to begin this entry by apologizing profusely for my long hiatus. I've been dealing with some health issues and haven't had much energy until recently, but I promise this recipe will more than make up for my absence! This might very well be my favorite recipe to make. I recently saw the movie "Julie and Julia," a film about the late, great master of French cooking, Julia Child. One of the recipes made in the movie is Julia's famous Boeuf Bourguignon. Bouef Bourguignon quite literally means "Beef Burgundy," but it's essentially beef cubes cooked in red wine with mushrooms, onions, and bacon. My main challenge upon pursuing this dish was finding substitutes for regular alcoholic wine and the bacon (from a pig) since I'm Muslim and therefore, do not consume alcohol or pork products. Thankfully, I believe I was able to pull it off pretty well with the things I used. I was able to find red and white dealcoholized wine at my local grocery store. Also, instead of traditional bacon from a pig, I split the bacon requirement into half beef bacon and half turkey bacon strips that I purchased at my local halal meat store.

Now I should warn you that making Boeuf Bourgignon is a lengthy process, so I would recommend making it on a day when you're well-rested, really in the mood to cook, and have 6 to 8 hours to devote towards cooking (depending on your speed and skill level). Getting help from your spouse or children might not be a bad idea either. My husband and I made this together for the first time and not only did everything go faster, but I definitely had a better time cooking with him than I would have by myself.

Making Boeuf Bourguignon requires two separate recipes that I have included below. Don't worry about making them ahead of time because you'll have plenty of time to make them while the beef is in the oven.


Kitchen Supplies:

* 9- to 10-inch, fireproof casserole dish , 3 inches deep ( I used a dutch oven)
* Slotted spoon

Boeuf Bourgignon:

* 6 ounces bacon (I used a half and half combination of beef and turkey bacon)
* 1 Tbsp. olive oil or cooking oil
* 3 pounds lean stewing beef ( I used rump roast and 5 lbs. instead), cut into 2-inch cubes
* 1 sliced carrot (or a small bag of baby carrots)
* 1 medium to large sliced onion
* 1 tsp. salt
* 1/4 tsp. pepper
* 2 Tbsp. flour
* 3 cups full-bodied, young red wine , such as a Chianti
* 2 to 3 cups brown beef stock or canned beef bouillon
* 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
* 2 cloves mashed garlic
* 1/2 tsp. thyme
* Crumbled bay leaf
* Blanched bacon rind ( I skipped this part)
* 18 to 24 small white pearl onions, brown-braised in stock
* 1 pound quartered fresh mushrooms, sautéed in butter
* Parsley sprigs


Remove rind from bacon, and cut bacon into lardons (sticks, 1/4 inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long). I simply took my pre-sliced strips of bacon and cut them into 1 and 1/2 inch long pieces. Simmer rind and bacon for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts of water. Drain and dry.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Sauté the bacon in the 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.

Dry the stewing 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.

In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the sautéeing fat.

Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with the salt and pepper. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly with the flour. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 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 degrees.

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 very slowly for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.

While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms. Set them aside until needed.

How to prepare the white pearl onions:

Oignons Glacés À Brun [Brown-braised Onions]

What you will need:

* A 9 to 10-inch enameled skillet
* 18-24 peeled white pearl onions
* 1 and 1/2 tbs. butter
* 1 and 1/2 tbs. olive oil
* 1/2 cup beef broth
* A medium herb bouquet: 4 parsley sprigs, 1/2 bay leaf, and 1/4 tsp. thyme tied in a cheesecloth

When the butter and oil are bubbling in the skillet, add the onions and sauté over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling onions about so they will brown as evenly as possible. Be careful not to break their skins. You cannot expect them to brown uniformly.
Then either braise them as follows:

Pour in liquid, season to taste, and add the herb bouquet. Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but retain their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Remove herb bouquet.
OR bake them as follows:

Transfer the onions and their sautéeing fat to a shallow baking dish or casserole just large enough to hold them in one layer. Set uncovered in upper third of a preheated 350-degree oven for 40 to 50 minutes, turning them over once or twice. They should be very tender, retain their shape, and be a nice golden brown. Remove herb bouquet.

How to prepare the mushrooms:

Champignons Sautés Au Beurre [Sauteed Mushrooms in Butter]

What you will need:

* A 10-inch enameled skillet
* 2 tbs. butter
* 1 tb. olive oil
* 1/2 lb. fresh mushrooms , washed, well dried, left whole if small, sliced or quartered if large

Optional: *1 to 2 tbs. minced shallots or green onions
*Salt and pepper

Place the skillet over high heat with the butter and oil. As soon as you see that the butter foam has begun to subside, indicating it is hot enough, add the mushrooms. Toss and shake the pan for 4 to 5 minutes. During their sauté, the mushrooms will at first absorb the fat. In 2 to 3 minutes the fat will reappear on their surface, and the mushrooms will begin to brown. As soon as they have browned lightly, remove from heat.

Toss the shallots or green onions with the mushrooms. Sauté over moderate heat for 2 minutes. Sautéed mushrooms may be cooked in advance, set aside, then reheated when needed.

When the melt 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.

Skim fat off the sauce. Simmer sauce for a minute or two, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons of stock or canned bouillon. Taste carefully for seasoning. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables. Recipe may be completed in advance to this point.

For immediate serving: Cover the casserole and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times. Serve in its casserole, or arrange the stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes, noodles, or rice, and decorated with parsley.

For later serving: When cold, cover and refrigerate. About 15 to 20 minutes before serving, bring to the simmer, cover, and simmer very slowly for 10 minutes, occasionally basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce.

Julia Child suggests serving this dish with boiled potatoes, buttered noodles, steamed rice, or butter peas. I chose some fresh French and asiago bread to go with mine and it tasted really good. Hope it turns out well for all of you! Bon appetit!