Along with Camembert and white beans, boeuf bourguignon ranks high among the Frenchman’s all time favorite foods. I remember making it in culinary school–a two day process–and I’ve made it once a winter since, always from Julia Child’s recipe. It’s a lovely cold weather dish, but the truth is, it’s a pain–fussy and time consuming.
This year, the crux of fall coincided with a book in the mail: the inimitable America’s Test Kitchen’s latest, 100 Recipes: The Absolute Best Way to Make the True Essentials. It’s such a useful book, both for the novice cook (the best way to scramble eggs and poach chicken) and the more experienced (adding gelatin to meatballs for improved texture). The recipes are beyond well tested.
My copy is now a ticker tape parade of must makes–pho, focaccia, smoked salmon–but the recipe I was drawn to first was their modernized (read: less finicky) version of boeuf bourguignon. The process has been trimmed, but the results are just as rich and wonderful. And the recipe feeds a crowd, or a family of two for many meals. (It yields 3 quarts or 6 pints, which I portion and freeze, equating roughly to 10 meals for the Frenchman and me.) This is good news in our (new!) apartment.
This recipe was published with permission from America’s Test Kitchen. They’ve generously offered a copy of the book to give away to one lucky reader. Simply leave a comment describing your favorite classic recipe by January 5th.
The original recipe notes that two minced anchovy fillets can be substituted for the anchovy paste. Also, any good Pinot Noir will work in this recipe, and that–while it shouldn’t be an overly nice bottle–it should be something you would drink on its own.
The recipe calls for store bought beef stock, which combined with the gelatin, tastes remarkably rich.
Finally, while prepackaged beef stew meat from the supermarket might be convenient, it can also be uneven. ATK recommends buying a single cut: “1. With your hands, pull apart roast at its major seams, delineated by lines of fat. Cut away all exposed fat. 2. Cut meat into large chunks, usually 1 1/2 to 2 inches. (We think bigger chunks make a better stew. They also are less likely to overcook.) Trim any hard knobs of white fat as you work. (Don’t bother trimming soft, thin lines of fat–they will melt during the stewing process and lubricate the meat.)”
If you buy your meat from a butcher, you can also ask that they do the above steps for you, which is what I did to simplify the process for myself.
If the pearl onions have papery outer coatings, remove them by rinsing in warm water and gently squeezing individual onions between your fingertips. (Although my frozen bag came de-papered, and I imagine yours will too.) If you can’t easily find salt pork, substitute bacon. Serve with mashed potatoes or buttered noodles. Serves 6 to 10, depending on how much/what else you serve it with.
- 1 4-pound (1.8 kilo) boneless beef chuck-eye roast, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2 to 2-inch pieces, scraps reserved
- kosher salt
- black pepper
- 6 ounces (170 grams) salt pork, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 pound (454 grams) cremini mushrooms, trimmed, halved if medium or quartered if large
- 1 1/2 cups frozen pearl onions, thawed
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/3 cup flour
- 4 cups beef broth
- 1 bottle (750 ml) red Burgundy or Pinot Noir
- 5 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
- 2 onions, chopped coarse
- 2 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch lengths
- 1 garlic head, cloves separated, unpeeled, and smashed
- 1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed
- 10 sprigs fresh parsley, plus 3 tablespoons minced
- 6 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
- Toss beef and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt together in a bowl and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Adjust oven racks to lower-middle and lowest positions and heat oven to 500F/260C. Place salt pork, 2 tablespoons butter, and beef scraps, in large roasting pan. Roast on upper rack until well browed and fat has rendered, 15 to 20 minutes. (Note: my fire alarm–which is admittedly way too close to my oven–went off after 10 minutes. I had some crispy pieces, and the fat was largely rendered.)
- While salt pork and beef scraps roast, toss cremini mushrooms, pearl onions, sugar, and remaining 1 tablespoon butter together on rimmed baking sheet. Roast on lower rack, stirring occasionally, until moisture released by mushrooms evaporates and vegetables are lightly glazed, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer vegetables to large bowl, cover, and refrigerate.
- Remove roasting pan from oven and reduce temperature to 325F/160C. Sprinkle flour over rendered fat and whisk until no dry flour remains. Whisk in broth, 2 cups wine, gelatin, tomato paste, and anchovy paste until combined. Add onions, carrots, garlic, porcini mushrooms, parsley sprigs, thyme leaves, bay leaves, and peppercorns to pan. Arrange beef in single layer on top of vegetables. Add water as needed to come three-quarters up side of beef (beef should not be submerged). Return roasting pan to oven and cook until meat is tender, 3 to 3 1/2 hours, stirring after 1 1/2 hours and adding water to keep meat at least half-submerged.
- Using a slotted spoon (I used tongs), transfer beef to bowl with cremini mushrooms and pearl onions; cover and set aside. (I also took the cooked carrots along for the ride.) Strain braising liquid through fine-mesh strainer set over large bowl, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible; discard solids. Stir in remaining wine and let cooking liquid settle, 10 minutes. Using wide, shallow spoon, skim fat from surface and discard.
- Transfer liquid to Dutch oven and bring mixture to boil over medium-high heat. Simmer briskly, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened to consistency of heavy cream, 15 to 20 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low, stir in beef and mushroom-onion mixture, cover, and cook until just heated through, 5 to 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in minced parsley. (I chopped up all remaining parsley.) Stew can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, or frozen for several months.