Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

I'ts What's for Dinner!

Boeuf, er, Beef that is.

Yesterday at the tail of a wonderfully rainy day, I got organized and made the Boeuf Bourguignon I'd originally planned for Sunday's dinner.

This is not a complicated recipe, but it does require some organization and a fairly long cooking time, so planning ahead is necessary.  This dish does not rush from step to step, so preparing every ingredient to add ahead of time is not crucial.  I'd suggest sitting and reading the steps carefully a couple of times through, then knowing how long it takes you to do certain things in balance with anything else you might be trying to do simultaneously, you'll know how to do this "your way".

Speaking of which, I'll cop to two substitutions I made which I feel did not seriously compromise the results.  First, I used beef broth rather than stock so added two bouillon cubes and skipped the extra salt in step 4 of the recipe.  Second, I used a roughly chopped onion I had on hand rather than springing for the bag of pearl onions. The stew as it cooked filled the house with tantalizing aromas and was richly, warmly delicious. Just the antidote for a chilly, wet, Spring evening.  Onward....

Boeuf Bourguignon

- serves 6 to 8 -

1/2 pound slab bacon, cut into 1/4- to 1/2-inch-thick slices
3 pounds beef chuck, cut into 2-inch cubes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 or 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 bottle dry red wine
2 cups low-sodium beef stock
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 package (8 oz) cipollini or white pearl onions, peeled, leaving root end intact
1 package (10 oz) white mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
1 bouquet garni (parsley, thyme, a bay leaf)
Chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish

1. Cut the bacon into 1/4- to 1/2-inch squares. Place in a Dutch oven or large heavy pot, and cook over medium heat until browned and crisp, about 25 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon, drain on paper towels, and set aside. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat in the pot.

2. Season the beef with salt and pepper. Arrange the meat in a single layer; brown over high heat. Once all the meat is browned, add the garlic and cook 2 to 3 minutes.

3. Add the flour, stir well, and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and add the wine to deglaze the pan, scraping all the brown bits with a wooden spoon.

4. Add the stock, carrot, onions, mushrooms, half of the browned bacon, 1 teaspoon salt, a pinch of pepper, and the bouquet garni. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover. When the meat begins to get tender, after 1 1/2 to 2 hours, crack the lid an inch or two—so the sauce can thicken. (If you've got a lot of liquid in the pan, you can take the lid off completely.)

5. Keep cooking for a total of 2 1/2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally, until meat is very tender and sauce has thickened. Garnish with the remaining bacon and a little chopped parsley.

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