As a former vegetarian, I don’t eat beef that often. When I do, I figure I might as well go all out. Sometimes a nice, juicy grilled cheeseburger on a brioche bun with sauteed onions and mushrooms, mixed greens, and truffle fries makes my mouth water. In the winter time, a good hunk of tenderloin with horse-radish sauce or a thick beef bourguignon stew with mashed potatoes will send you smiling into a nice food coma for the rest of the night. Regardless of what you’re thinking of cooking, I have one piece of advice: Tip that cow NOW and get started. I suggest trying the beef bourguignon recipe I made last night. It was melt-in-your-mouth delicious.
Yesterday, I set out to make beef bourguignon as part of my cookbook challenge. The full meal included mashed potatoes, pea and mint soup, and my peanut-brittle, chocolate chip, and marshmallow cookies. I had planned to make prune bread as well, but I ended up helping my mother make an apple spice cake from Ina Garten’s new Make it Ahead cookbook for a dinner party she was hosting. The pea soup is fairly light and goes well the beef bourguignon. A cookie for dessert, if you want dessert at all at that point, is all you need.
The inspiration for my beef bourguignon is the Marian Burrows’ cookbook I’ve mentioned earlier. I used Ina Garten’s recipe as a reference, but ultimately used a hybrid of the ingredients those two chefs suggested and modified my cook time. Marian Burrows recipe is probably the easiest; she suggests throwing all the ingredients into a crock pot and cooking at 250 degrees for 5 hours. If you don’t have time for all of the steps, I’d suggest giving this a try. She’s an outstanding cook, so I believe her when she says it can work. If you have the time and can afford fresh v. canned ingredients, try my recipe.
First you should assemble your ingredients. Take a photo and tag me on instagram so I can see it;) Here are mine…
This recipe has a good deal of chopping (nothing extreme), so try to be in good spirits when you do it. I managed to keep all of my digits intact, but I had a bit of a rough go at it. I was all set to focus on chopping my carrots, onions and mushrooms and mincing my garlic with a certain live-in-the-now zen, when I got an email that really set me off. Needless to say, it was a challenge to stay centered. Even on days, like yesterday, when we start the day with a vow to be our authentic selves and try to stay present to accomplish our tasks (big ones or little ones), sh*t happens. The chop chop chop, the sizzle, the heat of a flame, all help me to come back to earth.
Once you’ve chopped your ingredients, add the olive oil to your dutch oven and let the oil get nice and hot for 5-10 minutes. You don’t want it to start bubbling on it’s own, but you want it to sizzle a little when it comes in contact with the beef (mine took 8 minutes). While the oil is heating up, rinse off your beef and pat it dry.
If you’re really angry, like I was, give that beef a good smack with a paper towel. Season the beef with salt and pepper and place in rows into your dutch oven. Depending upon how much beef you use and how big your dutch oven is, you may need to do this twice or three times (mine was done in three batches). I am using a dutch oven that is approximately 4 qts. Sear the beef on all sides very quickly. Listen to the sizzle for a minute-close your eyes if you want and take a few deep breaths in and out. Don’t try and cook the beef (the oven will do that), just give it a browning on all sides as if you were imaginging closing the raw beef off from the outside. When you’re done, use your tongs to pick the beef out of the pot and place on a plate. Set the beef aside. Don’t worry about it getting cool.
Now toss in the onions, garlic and carrots. Season them with salt and pepper and suatee them until the onions are translucent. The mixture may turn a little yellow/brown because of the beef juices and the olive oil. Once fully sauteed, toss in the cognac and get ready to let all of your anger loose on those veggies. Light that baby on fire! I’m serious. I used a match, but if you try this, I suggest you only do it onlyif you can be safe-perhaps using a scripto long-reach lighter. If you can, it’s very satisfying. The flame dances around the pot as it burns off the alcohol in the Cognac. You may need to/want to light it up a few more times. Given how angry I was, I probably lit it on fire a good 4 or 5 times. What can I say? I was trying to let go…
Now add the beef (including the juices that have accumulated on the plate), the canned whole tomatoes, the tomato sauce, the 2 cups of beef stock and enough wine to nearly cover the beef (for me this was a cup and a half). Stir the pot so that everything is mixed together. Ina Garten suggests using Cote du Rhone, but for those of us who don’t live in the hamptons, Pinot Noir works just as well;) Put the lid on the pot and place in the oven on 250 degrees for 1 1/4 hours. After 1 1/4 hours, turn the oven down slightly to 225 and cook for another 2 hours. Remove from the oven, add the thyme and cook on the stove on very low heat for another 30 minutes. Now we’re almost done!
In a small saucepan, make a roux-a combined butter and flour mixture. Melt 2 tbsps of butter over medium heat and let it get nice and hot. Whisk 4 tbsps (one at a time) of flour into the butter until a thick paste forms. If you need more liquid to dissolve the flour, you can add more butter or a bit of the sauce from the stew. Once the flour is nice and dissolved/integrated into the roux, add it back into the Beef Bourguignon to thicken the stew. You can repeat this step or let the stew cook down on the stove a bit if you want to make the stew extra thick.
When you’re done with the roux (or at the same time, if you have help), sautee some fresh veggies. I suggest sauteeing the mushrooms and an extra onion (cut thickly) for about 10 minutes. When you’re done, add the veggies back into the stew. I recommend doing this, because it’s likley that all of the onions you added in the beginning will have dissolved by now.
Simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes and then serve along with some french bread and/or mashed potatoes. Garnish with some fresh parsley. I like to use a slotted spoon to make sure my beef bourguignon is served nice and thick on the plate. I then add some stew/sauce over top for taste. If you’re serving in a bowl, feel free to ladel away.
No matter how it’s served, everyone loves this dish. As an added benefit, there are so many steps to keep your mind occupied that even a very bad day can end with everyone smiling and laughing.
- FOR THE STEW...
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil
- 2½ lbs Chuck Beef (although i'm tempted to try tenderloin!)
- 2 large Yellow Onions (sliced)
- 2 cloves Garlic (minced)
- 5 large Carrots (chopped)
- 1 tbsp Salt
- 1 tbsp Pepper
- ½ cup Cognac
- 2 cups Beef Broth
- ½ cup Tomato Sauce
- 1 cup, Whole tomatoes
- 1½ cup Pinot Noir
- 1 tsp Fresh Thyme
- FOR THE FINAL STAGES...
- 2 tbsp Butter
- 3 tbsp Flour
- 1½ lbs of Mushrooms, sliced thickly)
- 1 Large Onion (sliced)
- ½ cup Parsely (chopped
- Preheat your oven to 250 degrees F
- Assemble your ingredients tray!
- Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a dutch oven on medium heat. Careful, we don't want the oil to bubble or boil
- Rinse your beef, pat try, and season with salt and pepper.
- Sear the beef quickly on all sides. No need to cook the beef, just brown it quickly.You may need to do this in batches.
- Remove the beef from the dutch oven and set aside.
- Add your onions, garlic, and carrots to the dutch oven along with all of the salt and half of the pepper.
- Sautee the veggies until the onions are translucent.
- Add in the Cognac and, if you dare, light it on fire with a long-reach lighter (please be careful)
- Watch the alcohol burn off the Cognac. Smile 🙂
- Add the beef and the juices back into the dutch oven.
- Add the tomatoes, the tomato sauce, the beef broth and the wine. The liquid should almost cover all of the beef.
- Stir the mixture.
- Put the lid on the pot, and put the stew in the oven for 1¼ hours on 250 degrees.
- After 1¼ hours, reduce the heat to 225 and cook for another 1¾ hours- 2 hours. Feel free to take the stew out and taste the beef and the carrots along the way. The carrots should be tender and the beef should melt in your mouth, and feel medium-rare in texture and taste (remember we have another 30 minutes on the stove after the oven).
- Remove the stew from the oven. If you want to store some in the freezer for later, now is the time to do that. If not...
- Put the stew on the stove on very low heat.
- Make a roux, by slowly whisking together the 2tbsps of butter with the flour. Add some stew liquid or more butter if you need more liquid.
- Add the roux back to the stew to thicken.
- Sautee the mushrooms and 1 large onion, sliced thickly, for another 10 minutes.
- Add the mushrooms and onions back to the stew and simmer for another 10 minutes.
- Garnish with fresh parsley and serve along with some mashed potatos and french bread.
- Alternatively, you can simmer the stew for 10 minutes and plate by adding the sauteed mushrooms and onions to the plate and spooning the beef bourguignon on top.