As the colder weather starts setting in here in Wrigleyville my thoughts and ideas on dinner turn towards braised dishes, roasts, soups, and stews. I enjoy grilling in the summertime but fall and winter are great times to cook. The kitchen is always warm and cozy, the house is filled with delicious aromas, and you get great leftovers that sometimes taste even better the next day. This is one of those dinners.
It’s simple, has just a few ingredients, and is easy to add your own touches to. I rely on Anthony Bourdain and his Les Halles Cookbook for the recipe on this one. I own a bunch of cookbooks but there are certain ones I definitely use more than others and Bourdain’s falls into the “heavier use” pile. The recipes aren’t overly intricate or too heavy on technique and you’ll find yourself easily incorporating them into your repertoire.
I used 3 cups of wine when I made it this afternoon. Why not? It’s boeuf BOURGUIGNON and deserves to have more wine than water in it! Why not the whole bottle, you ask? Well, the cook needs something to drink while it’s simmering. And yes Mr. Bourdain, I do keep some D’Artagnan demi-glace in my freezer to add to dishes such as this. Tonight we had this with some mashed potatoes (yes with truffle salt added!) and freshly baked baguettes. And there was just enough left for lunch tomorrow. Thank you Mr. Bourdain for this mouth-watering recipe!
Boeuf Bourguignon (source: Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook)
- 2lb paleron of beef or chicken steak or neck or shoulder cut into 1-1/2 in. pieces
- Salt and pepper
- ¼ C olive oil
- 4 onions thinly sliced
- 2 Tbs flour
- 1 C red Burgundy wine
- 6 carrots
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 bouquet garni (thyme, parsley and bay leaf)
- chopped flat parsley
Stage One: Season the meat with salt and pepper. In a Dutch oven, heat the oil over high heat until it is almost smoking. Add the meat in batches — NOT ALL AT ONCE! — and sear on all sides until it is well browned (not gray). You dump too much meat in the pot at the same time and you’ll overcrowd it; cool the thing down and you won’t get good color. Sear the meat a little at a time, removing it and setting it aside as it finishes. When all the meat is a nice, dark brown color and has been set aside, add the onions to the pot. Lower the heat to medium high until the onions are soft and golden brown (about 10 minutes). Sprinkle the flour over them. Continue to cook for about 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add the red wine. Naturally, you want to scrape up all that really good fond from the bottom of the pot with your wooden spoon. Bring the wine to a boil.
Stage Two: Return the meat to the pot and add the carrots, garlic and bouquet garni. Add just enough water (and two big spoons of demi-glace, if you have it) so that the liquid covers the meat by one-third — meaning you want a ratio of 3 parts liquid to 2 parts meat. This is a stew, so you want plenty of liquid even after it cooks down and reduces. Bring to a boil, reduce to a gentle simmer, and let cook for about 2 hours, or until the meat is tender (break-apart-with-a-fork tender).
You should pay attention to the dish, meaning to check it every 15 to 20 minutes, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot to make sure the meat is not sticking or, God forbid, scorching. You should also skim off any foam or scum or oil collecting on the surface, using a large spoon or ladle. When done, remove and discard the bouquet garni, add the chopped parsley to the pot, and serve.