Cooking Week #3: Beef in Burgundy

This week we’re doing another of my favorite recipes – Beef in Burgundy, or Boeuf Bourguignon as it is known in France. It’s a great comfort food, and we usually have it once or twice during the winter months. However, the 2011-2012 winter was so mild, we never got around to doing it. When I mentioned it as a possible dish for our cooking week, Mike jumped at the chance to sample it. So, without further ado…

This version is a variation of the classic recipe, and is closest to one that I saw the Frugal Gourmet use years ago on his television show.

Ingredients:

  • 5 slices of bacon (about half a package)
  • 4 pounds of good beef
  • 1 bottle of burgundy wine (pinot noir)
  • 2 cups of chicken stock
  • 4 tablespoons tomato sauce or 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 large vidalia onion, chopped
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup flour

Optional:

  • 1/2 pound mushrooms
  • 4 potatoes, peeled and cubed

Directions:
Place the bacon strips into a large frying pan and fry gently over low heat. As the bacon fat comes out, drain it into a container, leaving behind enough to coat the frying pan. When the bacon is completely cooked, remove and set aside for other uses (although I usually crumble one or two strips and add them to the casserole before putting it into the oven). While the bacon is cooking, cut the beef into small cubes, about an inch on a side. Put about a quarter of the cubes into the frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook quickly, flipping the cubes to make sure that all sides brown equally. Remove the meat into a large, heavy casserole dish. Add some of the reserved bacon fat to the frying pan, and add the next quarter of the beef. Repeat until all the meat has been browned.

Add the wine, chicken stock, tomato sauce/paste, bay leaf, thyme and garlic to the casserole. Cover the casserole dish and place in an oven pre-heated to 350 degrees F.

If you intend to add potatoes, peel them and cut them into cubes around the same size as the beef. Add them to the casserole after it has been cooking for a bit over two hours.

After 2.5 hours of cooking, saute the chopped onions in a bit of butter, and add to the casserole, stirring everything together. If you want to add mushrooms, they can go in at this time also. Before adding, I usually quarter the largest ones, cut the smaller ones in half, then brown them for 10 minutes in 2-3 tablespoons of butter until they’re soft.

At the three hour mark, I test the meat for tenderness. If it seems done, I make up a roux in a frying pan (usually the same one I used for the onion (and mushrooms, if added)). Melt the butter, then mix in the flour, stirring until the mixture is smooth. Cook, with frequent stirring, until it begins to turn a light golden-brown. The roux gets folded into the casserole a spoonful at a time, making sure to mix gently but thoroughly. The sauce should thicken as the roux is added. Taste and add salt as necessary.

Beef in Burgundy can be served on its own, but we often serve it with egg noodles. Another great accompaniment is bread or rolls, to help mop up the gravy. Finally, a green leafy salad provides a nice balance for this heavy dish.

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