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Bourgignon-esque Beef Stew

My, my, what a lot of meat we’ve been eating lately!  Honestly, we usually don’t eat this much meat, it’s just that the recent dishes that I’ve thought worthy of sharing on here have been meat dishes.

Boeuf Bourgignon is one of those dishes that you almost HAVE to make as a rite of passage into the cooking world.  Remember all those agonizing scenes from Julie and Julia where Julie Powell makes the stew, twice, both times with rather disastrous results?  Not the fault of the recipe, of course.  But all that has kind of made Boeuf Bourgignon seem kind of difficult.

And, honestly, now that I’ve made a version of it, I can’t see why.  Granted, the original recipe is kind of fussy.  You have to brown everything separately, assemble the stew, strain out the over-cooked vegetables, add fresh veggies and mushrooms (that have also been browned separately), strain the sauce, boil the sauce down, and thicken it with a beurre manie.  Okay, yes, it’s fussy.  I’m too lazy for that kind of recipe.  Maybe I’d do it if the food editor of the New York Times was coming over for dinner, but for a weeknight meal….NAH.

In my version, everything gets down in the same pot.  I personally don’t mind overcooked onions and carrots in my stew, as I feel like they melt into the sauce anyway and you don’t really notice them.  And I dispensed with the need for reducing the sauce by simply not adding that much liquid.  Not too difficult. Oh, and pearl onions? They were 3.99 a pound, and I just used a regular onion. That way I didn’t have to blanch the pearl onions and peel them before adding them to the stew.

Bourgignon-esque Beef Stew
Serves 4

3 slices bacon, diced
1.5-2 pounds stew beef, cut into even chunks
2 heaping tablespoons flour
2 yellow onions, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
10-12 medium cremini mushrooms
1.5 cups Pinot Noir, or other dry red wine
3 cups beef broth
6 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp unsalted butter
Salt and pepper
oil

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Heat a large oven-proof pot on the stove over medium-high heat. Brown the bacon, then remove to a large bowl.

Toss beef chunks with flour until more or less evenly coated. Using the rendered bacon fat, brown the beef in batches, removing them to the same bowl as the bacon.

Add a little oil if needed to the pot, brown the onions and carrots. Remove HALF of the browned vegetables to a separate bowl and set aside for later.

Add bacon and beef back to the pot with the remaining vegetables. Add wine, broth, tomato paste, thyme and bay leaf. Add a generous grinding of pepper. Bring to a simmer.

Cover pot, set in oven and bake for 2 hours.

Meanwhile brown the mushrooms in a separate frying pan until they give up their water.

Remove pot from oven, add mushrooms and remaining browned vegetables. Return to oven for another 30 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.

Remove from oven, let cool for 5 minutes, then stir in the butter.  Taste for seasonings, add salt and pepper if needed.

Serve with egg noodles, potatoes, or in our case, the stew was really delicious over spaetzle.

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