With all the lovely cold weather we’ve been having, a post about Anthony Bourdain’s beloved Beef Bourguignon recipe caught my eye, but when I actually made it, I used Ina Garten’s recipe. Bourdain’s recipe actually looked simpler, but called for demi-glace, an ingredient I didn’t have, so I went with Ina, whose recipes are pretty foolproof (and that’s also the name of one of her cookbooks).
Around the time I made this I also read an article in the New York Times Food Section of cooking tips to make cooking easier (and more foolproof!), so I incorporated them in making this Beef Bourguignon as a practical teaching tool.
This means to get your stuff together. Referred to as “mise en place” by chefs, pull all the ingredients you need out before you begin cooking. It stinks when you start to cook, only to have to stop in the middle to run to the store for a missing ingredient. Also make sure all your ingredients are fresh and ready-to-use; you don’t want to find your yeast or baking soda has expired in the midst of baking. This also means to chop, dice and generally prep all the ingredients that will be going into your dish to make cooking easier.
For this recipe, mise meant I chopped the bacon, ground the pepper, sliced the onions, carrots, mushrooms, diced the garlic and measured the other ingredients before I began. The butter should be taken out as well, so it’s room temp.
“Taste as you go”
Kind of self-explanatory, but taste as you are cooking to make sure it all tastes correctly. If you have to add different components together and one part is bad, the whole dish can be ruined by ignoring this advice. It’s especially important before serving the finished dish. I tasted the sauce for this dish to determine if it needed more salt, flavoring etc…
“Don’t Crowd the Pan”
When searing the meat cubes for the Beef Bourguignon, I made sure there was space in between. If you crowd the meat, it steams versus sears and you want the sear on the meat to get a nice depth of flavor.
“Read the Recipe. Really.”
Super important and I did read this recipe through, but still messed up. I used less meat than called for, but didn’t cut back on the cognac (1/2 cup) or red wine (a whole bottle!) and after I did that, it was too saucy and I was still supposed to put beef broth in. I was afraid my family was going to get bloody drunk on this beef stew. So, make notes of reductions of ingredients, if cutting back on the recipe. Doing math in my head was never my strong suit, it’s better if I have it written out.
“Use a Garbage Bowl”
I don’t know why I didn’t think of this before. I usually just throw vegetable scraps and skins into any available vessel and throw them into my compost after cooking, but this is a better idea, making cooking more efficient.
“Buy the Best Ingredients Possible”
This is my own addition and is the basis of Tuscan cooking in Italy. I couldn’t find the specific beef (chuck) meat specified in this recipe, so out of laziness grabbed some pre-cut stew meat. When I got it home, the cubes were different sizes and some of the meat didn’t even look like meat, but like pork. While my Beef Bourguignon was good, the meat was a little on the chewy side.
“Clean As you Go”
I don’t always follow this rule, but I always feel better when I do. First of all, make sure your kitchen is clean before you start and if you clean as you go, you won’t be left with a giant unmanageable mess at the end. I sometimes set the buzzer for 10 minutes and make myself clean until it goes off, as a motivator.
Beef Bourguignon recipe by Ina Garten
Yeild: 6 servings (more like 8)
Total Time: 1 hr 45 min
Prep: 30 min
Cook: 1 hr 15 min
- 1 tablespoon good olive oil
- 8 ounces bacon, diced
- 1 1/2 pounds chuck beef cut into 1-inch cubes
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound carrots, sliced diagonally into 1-inch chunks
- 2 yellow onions, slice
- 2 teaspoons chopped garlic
- 1/2 cup Cognac
- 1 bottle good dry red wine such as Cote du Rhone or Pinot Noir
- 1 can (2 cups) beef broth
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temp, divided
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 pound frozen whole onions
- 1 pound fresh mushrooms, stems discarded, caps thickly sliced
1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch Oven. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is lightly browned. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a large plate.
3. Dry the beef cubes with paper towels and then sprinkle them with salt and pepper. In batches in single layers, sear the beef in the hot oil for 3 to 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove the seared cubes to the plate with the bacon and continue searing until all the beef is browned. Set aside.
4. Toss the carrots and onions, 1 tablespoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of pepper in the fat in the pan and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add the Cognac, stand back and ignite with a match to burn off the alcohol. Put the meat and bacon back into the pot with the juices. Add the bottle of wine plus enough beef broth to almost cover the meat. Add the tomato paste and thyme. Bring to a simmer, cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and place in the oven for about 1 1/4 hours or until the meat and vegetables are very tender when pierced with a fork.
5. Combine 2 tablespoons of butter and the flour with a fork and stir into the stew. Add the frozen onions. Saute the mushrooms in 2 tablespoons of butter for 10 minutes until lightly browned and then add to the stew. Bring the stew to a boil on top of the stove, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Season to taste.
6. To serve, sprinkle parsley over the top.
I followed the recipe with the exception of the fact I couldn’t find frozen pearl onions, so got fresh and had to peel them. I also didn’t have the full amount of beef, so should have adjusted the recipe to accomodate the change. But otherwise, it turned out great and tasted better the next day. I served it with mashed potatoes, sauteed peas and French bread.
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