When the weather gets cold, year after year I have tried to make a succulent, melt in your mouth beef stew or pot roast. I’ve used the stove top, slow cooker and oven. Nothing has been even close to what hubby and I wanted. In fact, he suggested that I stop trying. Sadly, he was right!
Then I remembered I had seen The Barefoot Contessa make Beef Bourguignon on TV. So I went in search of the recipe and found it on the Food Network site. I adapted it a bit omitting mushrooms and serving over mashed potatoes. I’m just not a mushroom fan. But, after I made it, hubby said this would do over any pot roast recipe I could ever try. That’s how good it is! It’s a very rustic, peasant dish that is full of flavor and just sounds impressive when you say Beef Bourguignon.
Before I get to the recipe, a few notes. Use a bottle of wine you would drink. Being in the wine business with my husband, I’ve never used the same bottle of wine in this recipe but it has been one we like to drink. My personal favorite is a pinot noir. If you’ve never done it before igniting the cognac is intimidating, there’s no doubt. Here’s my method, I pour in the cognac, wait a minute or two, stand at the ready with the lid and make my hubby light it! He uses one of those flame wands. The flames will be high. The flames will be many. Panic inside but remain calm. Oh, did I mention I also have my fire extinguisher nearby? You need the alcohol to burn off. If it gets to much for your nerves, cover the pot with the lid. I own Calphalon, the original. I do have a coated Dutch oven but flaming in that makes me nervous for too many reasons to mention here. The lid is not glass either. Don’t try to use any other cut of meat than chuck roast. It really has much more fat, or marbling, than I like, but the fat melts away during cooking. Like magic, making the meat melt in your mouth. I like to serve over mashed potatoes but you can also serve over crusty, toasted sourdough bread.
So now, my version of Ina Garten’s Beef Bourguignon.
1 tablespoon good olive oil
8 ounces thick cut bacon, diced
2 1/2 pounds chuck beef cut into 1-inch cubes
1 pound carrots, sliced diagonally into 1-inch chunks
2 yellow onions, sliced
2 teaspoons chopped garlic (2 cloves)
1/2 cup Cognac
1 (750ml) bottle good dry red wine such as Pinot Noir
1 can (2 cups) beef broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 pound frozen whole (pearl) onions
Country bread, Sourdough bread, or mashed potatoes
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, optional
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
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.
Dry the beef cubes (it helps them brown) 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.
Toss the carrots and onions and 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 more minute. Add the Cognac, stand back and ignite with a match to burn off the alcohol. (See comments above about doing this.) 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. Bring to a simmer, cover the pot with a tight-fitting, oven-proof 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. Remove from oven to stovetop.
Combine 2 tablespoons of butter and the flour with a fork and stir into the stew. Add the frozen onions. Bring the stew to a boil on top of the stove, then lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Season to taste.
To serve: If serving over bread, toast in toaster or oven. Rub each slice with a cut clove of garlic. Spoon stew over slice of bread and sprinkle with parsley.
If serving with mashed potatoes, spoon a serving of mashed potatoes onto plate and spoon stew over potatoes. Serve hot!
Makes 4 to 6 servings.