Happy Birthday Karen!
Yours always,
Beef Bourguignon

I met Karen on Facebook last year. I believe she was searching for extensions of the McAliley family on FB. Even after she found out that I was a McAliley only by marriage, she hid her disappointment well and added me as a friend. This gave me a chance to meet someone who used to ask for this dish as her birthday dinner when she was young. I think she must have been a pretty cool kid for asking for a meal that is cooked in a bottle of wine!

So, since the timing of my first post coincides with Karen’s birthday, here is the recipe for Beef Bourguignon! Happy Birthday Karen!

This dish is delicious but definitely not a 30-minute meal at all… It takes a quite bit of preparation, so make sure you have 3-4 hours available when you start this. Add a little bit more time, if your husband just got his new Canon camera and wants to practice by taking a shot of your every single move with a floor lamp dragged behind him while you are cooking in a 100 square foot kitchen. I gotta say though, I really appreciate his efforts because the pictures turned out great!

Here my summary of the recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking (by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck, published by Alfred A. Knopf); see the book for more details. I served it with Turkish Pilaf. You can find that recipe at the end of the post as well.  And this dish gives me a chance to use the biggest impulse purchase of my life, my red Le Creuset Dutch Oven!

Beef Bourguignon

  • 3 lbs stew meat, cut in 2 inch cubes (rump pot roast and chuck pot roast are the best ones for this recipe)
  • 6 ounce of bacon (fat and bacon separated)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 sliced carrot
  • 1 sliced medium size onion
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoon flour
  • 3 cups red wine
  • 2-3 cups of beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 cloves of mashed garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • A crumbled bay leaf
  • 18-24 pearl onions ( I used shallots once for this recipe. 8-9 shallots are normally enough if you can not find pearl onions.)
  • Herb bouquet (4 parsley springs, 1/2 bay leaf, 1/4 teaspoon thyme tied in a cheesecloth)
  • 1 lb. quartered mushrooms

1. Separate the fat from the bacon, and cut the bacon in small pieces. Simmer both fat and bacon for 10 minutes in boiling water. Drain and dry.

2. Put olive oil in dutch oven, and sauté the bacon in olive oil until it browns. Remove from the dutch oven and set aside. Brown the meat, in batches if necessary. To brown it properly, make sure the meat is dry and it is not crowded in the dutch oven.

3. Remove the meat and add the sliced carrots and onion to brown. After they are done, get rid of any excess fat in the dutch oven, if there is any. ( In my case, there was never excess fat, the vegetables soaked it up.)

4. Return the beef and bacon to the dutch oven with the veggies and toss them with salt, pepper and flour. Put it in the 450-degree oven for 8 minutes, tossing the meat once halfway through the cooking time.

5. Make a mixture with tomato paste, garlic, and herbs. Since it will be a very thick mixture, I like to thin it with some beef stock to an easier-to-stir consistency. Mix it with the meat and add the boiled bacon fat. (Everytime, at this step, I have to close my eyes because I don’t want to see all the fat I will be eating. Hey, if you don’t see it,  it did not happen and you don’t have to worry about the calories!)

6. Add wine and beef stock to barely cover the meat. Bring it to simmer on the top of the stove. Turn the oven down to 325 degrees and put the covered dish in the oven. Simmer it for approximately 3 hours.

7. While the meat is cooking, the pearl onions and mushrooms can be prepared. Sauté the pearl onions with 1-1/2 tablespoon butter and 1-1/2 tablespoon olive oil. Try not the break the skin of the onions. A little shake to the pan will do it. After they brown, pour 1/2 cup of beef stock or wine, salt, pepper and put the herb bouquet in.  Cook until all liquid is gone. (~30-40 minutes have been enough for me).

8. Sauté the mushrooms with 4 tablespoon of butter and 2 tablespoon of olive oil.

9. When the meat is cooked you can take the liquid collected in the dutch oven into a saucepan, sieve and simmer it to skim off the fat, then return it to the pan. I have not done it this way, since it seems there is not a whole lot of liquid left over. At this point, I add the mushrooms and pearl onions in the dutch oven, simmer it a little bit more and serve it with parsley springs on top as suggested in the book.

Turkish Pilaf (serves 2 people)

  • 1 cup of basmati rice
  • 1/4 cup of thin broken vermicelli
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cups of water or chicken stock

1. Wash the rice in a colander until the water runs clear.

2. Melt the butter in the pan and add vermicelli. Saute vermicelli until it browns slightly.

3. Add rice and salt, saute the rice for another 1 minute.

4. Add water and cover the pan, turn the heat up until it starts to boil. Once the water boils, turn the heat down to low and cook another 20 minutes. The rice will be fluffy when all water is gone.

I know this is a time consuming meal. But it is worth every minute once you sit down at the table with a glass of wine, tasting this beauty. Enjoy!

One Comment:

  1. by Karen
    8:49 pm
    Jul 19, 2010

    I am deeply touched! And hungry again, even though I’m currently full from birthday dinner. Not beef bourguignon, regrettably, but a good one just the same. Thank you so much, my friend and, no matter the actual connection, family!

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