Because who the fuck wants to try spelling “Boeuf Bourguignon”?
A couple of days ago, on the way back from the Hysterics at Eric’s, She Who Must Be Obeyed and I made a Costco run. Gotta love Costco, home of Mass Quantities of Tasty Protein.
SWMBO’s eyes settled on a honkin’ humongous package of beef stew meat...for there’s no stick-to-your-ribs comfort food quite like a good beef stew.
This evening, when the Dinner Hour approached, I got in one of my Cooking Moods, and so the Missus (reluctantly) yielded the kitchen to me as I prepared Comfort Food, Continental Style.
Boof Booganoon, AKA Boeuf Bourguignon, AKA Beef Burgundy
~3 lbs beef chunks
~ 3 tbsp butter
~ 3 tbsp olive oil
1-2 medium yellow onions
3 cloves garlic
2 bay leaves
1 rib celery
~ 6 parsley stems (leaves removed)
2 cloves (optional)
~1/2 cup Cognac
750 ml Pinot Noir wine
2 cups sliced mushrooms
2 cups small boiling or pearl onions
First, I dredged the ~three pounds of meat chunks (you can use beef chuck, hacked up into convenient one-inch cubes) in flour into which I had added a generous dollop of fresh ground black pepper and kosher salt. These went into a hot skillet into which I had put some olive oil. I browned the meat in several batches - you don’t want to crowd the meat in the skillet, lest it steam instead of developing a nice dark crusty glaze. Add more oil if the pan dries out.
Once the meat was all browned and put aside, I deglazed the pan with about a half cup of Cognac, being sure to scrape up all the delicious knobbly brown stuff from the pan. This all got dumped on the meat, after which I wiped out the pan for the next step.
Next, I peeled and cut into chunks three good-sized carrots. I also chopped up a yellow onion and three cloves of garlic. These went into a Dutch oven with a tablespoon of melted butter at medium-high heat to soften and lightly caramelize. After the onions were nice and soft and just beginning to brown, I added a tablespoon of tomato paste and continued cooking for another minute or two. Once all this was done, I dumped in the meat and added a 750 ml bottle of Pinot Noir. [If you want to get all Continental, you can use red Burgundy wine (the dish is, after all, “Beef Burgundy”) or a Côtes du Rhône Rouge.] What you do now is bring everything to a low simmer and let it cook for 3½ - 4 hours, partially covered.
While the stew is coming to a simmer, prepare a bouquet garni: take a rib of celery and, using butcher’s twine, tie about half a dozen parsley stems and two bay leaves to it. You may also wish to stick one or two whole cloves in there; I did not. The bouquet garni goes in the stew while the excess twine is used to tie it to the handle of the Dutch oven. This makes it easy to retrieve it when the dish is finished cooking.
Once everything is simmering along nicely, blanch a couple of cups of small boiling onions or pearl onions in boiling salted water for one minute, then shock with cold water. Once you’ve done this, peeling the slippery little fuckers is a snap. I used Cipollini onions - they’re a convenient size for eating, and, unlike pearl onions, it doesn’t take two months to peel a few cups of ’em.
Take the peeled onions and sauté them in a small saucepan in a tablespoon of melted butter until they have a few nice brown spots on them - about 6 minutes. Then, add two cups of water and let the onions simmer slowly for about 20 minutes. Then, crank up the heat and boil until the liquid has been reduced to a few tablespoons. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Rinse and drain the mushroom slices and sauté in a tablespoon of melted butter, adding salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium-high heat until the water released by the mushrooms has cooked off and the mushrooms start to brown. Remove from heat; set aside.
Once the beef is tender, add the onions (and the few tbsp of cooking liquid) and the mushrooms to the stew and let cook for another 10-15 minutes. Remove the bouquet garni (that’s what that string is for, remember?) and serve it forth, accompanied by new boiled potatoes or buttered noodles.
Me, I enjoyed this with a nice Kenwood red Zinfandel, and it hit the spot - a perfect dinner for a blustery, rainy Autumn night.