Friday, March 29, 2013

Beef Bourguignon (Beef Stew With Red Wine)

Beef Bourguignon

Unfortunately, I do not know how to pronounce "Bourguignon." I wish I did.

However, I do know that this soup, despite the rather intimidating name, is fabulous. My mom declared it "the best beef stew [she has] ever tasted." The red wine gives this dish such a rich, flavorful, and soul-satisfying taste that will be sure to impress a crowd. After making this, I not only fell in love with the soup, but I realized that I absolutely adore pearl onions! They are so sweet and tasty, with a satisfying crunch that I had never experienced before. Also, t
here are a few key details to remember when making the stew: Be sure to brown the meat well in the beginning, use a good quality red wine that you would happily drink, and, if possible, make it a day in advance to let the flavors develop. Unlike a soft, mushy, murky stew, the components of this bourguignon stay intact just enough - so that you know what you're eating, but it still feels cohesive. My family be making this in big batches all winter long.

4-6 servings

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic, diced
1 teaspoon dried, crushed thyme
2 pounds cubed stewing beef (chuck or sirloin tip)
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups red wine
1 cup beef broth
1 tomato, seeded and diced
2 cups pearl onions
1/4 pound bacon, cut into 1/2-inch strips
1/4 pound mushrooms quartered
2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
Buttered Egg Noodles (optional)


Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a Dutch oven or ovenproof stewpot, and sauté the onion, carrot, garlic, and thyme over medium heat until browned, 8 to 10 minutes. When the vegetables are nicely colored, transfer them to a bowl. Wipe out any little bits of vegetable clinging to the pan so they don't burn when you sear the beef.

Pat the meat cubes dry and season them with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper. Add 1/2 tablespoon of the oil to the pan and sear the beef in batches over high heat until it is a rich mahogany brown on all sides. This will take approximately 5 to 7 minutes depending on the thickness of the meat. Cubes tightly packed in the pan won't brown properly. Clean out any juices which are released before the next batch. Over high heat add 1/2 tablespoon of oil for each batch, then sauté the meat until browned on all sides.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Return the vegetables and the meat to the pan, dust the meat and vegetables with the flour, and cook for 2 minutes over medium heat, stirring frequently. Toasting the flour helps to develop the overall flavor of the stew. Add 2 cups of the red wine to cover the beef and bring to a boil. Add the tomato and season the stew with the rest of the salt and pepper. 

Place the stew in a crock put set for low and cook 7-8 hours, or until the meat is tender. (If as the stew simmers the wine reduces below the meat, add a little water.)

After at least 3 hours, bring a medium pot of water to a boil. To peel the pearl onions, trim the roots and make a small X with a paring knife in the other end. Boil the onions for 3 minutes, spoon them out, and set them aside to cool. Then squeeze the onions out of their skins. In the same water, blanch the bacon pieces for 3 to 4 minutes, and keep any grease.

Heat a separate medium skillet, add the remaining oil, and brown the bacon and onions. Add the mushrooms and cook over high heat until golden brown. Pour any excess fat into the slow cooker.  Add the final cup of red wine to the vegetables, and simmer until the onions are tender, about 10 minutes. Add this mixture to the slow cooker.

When the beef is tender, pour the stew into a warm bowl, dust with the minced parsley, and serve with buttered noodles if desired, or crusty bread.

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