When the weather turns chilly you can never go wrong with comfort food. Beef Bourguignon happens to be one of our favorite comforting dishes. I’ve had vertigo and haven’t been able to do much, so I hope you don’t mind a repeat of this Ina Garten favorite, first seen here. In south Florida our normally sunny skies and pleasant temperatures changed over the weekend as the cold front brought us a damp and chilly Sunday. Of course that was nothing compared to the cold blast of Arctic air that is affecting many of you.
I hope you’ll come in from the cold and enjoy a bowl of rich French deliciousness. Beef bourguignon can be made in advance and actually it taste even better the next day.
Ina’s Beef Bourguignon
Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa via The Food Channel – serves 6
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ pound apple wood smoked bacon, diced - *see cook's notes
2 1/2 pounds bottom round or chuck beef, trimmed of excess fat & cut into 1-inch cubes (we prefer bottom round)
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 pound carrots, peeled, then sliced diagonally into 1-inch chunks
2 yellow onions, peeled and sliced
2 teaspoons chopped garlic (2 cloves)
1/4 cup Cognac or brandy
1 (750 ml.) bottle good dry red wine such as Cote du Rhone or Pinot Noir
2 cups fat free, low sodium beef broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried
4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature, divided
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 pound frozen whole onions (or fresh small onions, parboiled & browned)
1 pound fresh mushrooms, stems discarded, caps thickly sliced
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley for garnish
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 lined with paper towels.
Dry the beef cubes well with paper towels, 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 the sliced onions in the fat in the pan, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Remove the pan from the heat and add the ¼ cup of cognac. Stand back and ignite with a match to burn off the alcohol. (You can add up to ½ cup of cognac if you wish).
Put the meat and bacon back into the pot with the juices. Add the bottle of red wine plus, enough beef broth to almost cover the meat. Add the tomato paste and thyme. Bring to a simmer, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and place it in the oven for about 1 1/4 hours or until the meat and vegetables are very tender when pierced with a fork.
Time out for a cook’s note: If you wish to prepare this dish in advance, at this point when it cools you can cover it and keep it covered for several days in the refrigerator. We like to skim off the excess fat from the top with a spoon when it’s removed from the refrigerator and still cold. Braises served the next day are always better for maximum flavor.
Combine 2 tablespoons of butter and the flour with a fork and stir into the stew. Add the small frozen pearl onions or if using fresh onions, parboil for 30 seconds in lightly salted water, then drain and slip off the skins. Brown the onions in a little butter & olive oil until they take on a bit of color before adding them to the stew. Sauté the mushrooms in 2 tablespoons of butter for 10 minutes until lightly browned and then add to the stew. Bring the stew to a boil on top of the stove, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Season to taste.
To serve, toast the bread in the toaster or oven. Rub each slice on one side with a cut clove of garlic. For each serving, spoon some stew over a slice of the bread and sprinkle with some chopped fresh parsley. Buttered noodles or creamy mashed potatoes make a delicious base for the bourguignon as well.
Cook’s Notes: The French would not use overly smoked bacon in their Bourguignon. Therefore I suggest that you use a lightly apple wood smoked bacon and stay away from the heavily smoked bacons such as Nueske’s and Benton’s. Both brands are excellent smoked bacons, but save them for a BLT or breakfast. You don’t want your Bourguignon to taste too smoky.