Hey everybody, this is my first post and I am very exited to write about one of the tastiest meals I have eaten: Julia Child's Beef Bourguignon. It takes a while to cook (as does French cuisine generally), but the end result is so great, you won't believe it. Invite foodies to enjoy it with you!
From my experience, stews get only better if they are served the second day. So for time management and a better taste I have divided the preparation of this classical dish for two days.
6 ounce chunk of bacon (it has to be a chunk and not sliced)
1 tb olive or cooking oil
3 lbs. lean beef
1 medium onion
1/4 tbs pepper
1 tsp salt
2 tb flour
3 cups of full-bodied young red wine such as Chianti. Mukuzani works great for those who are in Georgia.
2 to 3 cups brown beef stock or canned beef bouillon (improvise, you could just dissolve a beef soup cube in warm water and get the same taste as canned bouillon).
1 tb tomato paste
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp thyme
a crumbled bay leaf
bacon rind or fat
18-14 small onions which you will transform into "oignons glaces a brun" and you will need:
1. 5 tb butter
1.5 tb oil
1/2 cup beef bouillon, dry white wine or water
a medium herb bouquet: 4 parsley springs, 1/2 bay leaf and 1/4 thyme tied in a cheesecloth
1 lb / 450 grammes mushrooms (preferably fresh) which you will sautee and need:
Now, if you've noticed, there are two recipes within this recipe: special way to cook onions and mushrooms. If beef is the sun of this dish, onions are definitely little starts, and honestly, I never knew that an onion could hold so much flavor. They have to be the smallest, tiniest onions available in the market. This is the season for them and I personally bought three kilos of them (and the guys selling them at the bazroba died laughing). So, go out and shop for them and if you don't use them in this stew, you can just cook them according to this recipe and put them in other food. The one on the pic above, in my hand is small enough (my hand is very small so the pic maybe misleading). Also, keep in mind that you might want to buy a bit more beef, as you will cut off the fat and bones that always accompanies Georgian beef. As for the mushrooms, they are tastier when fresh, but they are also very expensive, so canned ones will do. Also, the bacon, it has to be a whole piece of it, try Nikora stores. Buy paper towels, you'll need them to dry meat and mushrooms.
Cut bacon into lardons (I love this word. lardons are sticks that are 1/4 inch thick and 1.5 inches long).
If you bought a smoked bacon (and every single kind of bacon sold in USA is smoked), you'll need to simmer it in water for 10 minutes to get rid of the smoky flavor.
For bacon purchased in Georgia, ask for a non-smoked one and skip this step.
Preheat oven to 450 F/ 232 C
Take a deep skillet/pan and saute the bacon in the 1 tb of olive or cooking oil over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes, to brown lightly. Remove with a slotted spoon. There should be lots of fat left on the pan.
Cut the 3 lbs. beef into 2 inch cubes (try to get them all the same size, or they will not cook evenly). The meat has to be dried thoroughly or its surface will not brown on the pan!
Reheat the fat that was left in the pan until it is almost smoking. Saute beef, few pieces at a time, until nicely brown on all sides. Set aside.
In the same fat, brown 1 sliced carrot and one sliced medium onion.
Get rid of the sauteing fat.
Heat up a casserole. Put the sauteed vegetables, meat and bacon in it (not the melted fat though).
Toss it all with 1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.
Then sprinkle lightly with the flour.
Set casserole uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat and return to oven for 4 more minutes (this browns the flour and covers the meat with a light crust).
Remove casserole and turn oven down to 325 F/ 162 C
Stir in the red wine (I use Mukuzani) and then bouillon so that meat is barely, almost covered. It should not be covered all the way.
Add tomato paste, garlic, thyme and crumbled bay leaf and rind or fat. Bring to simmer on top of the stove.
Cover the casserole and set in a lower third of preheated oven. Regulate heat so that it simmers very slowly. Let it simmer for an hour. Call it a day and have a glass of leftover Mukuzani.
Refrigerate the stew after it cools off (if the weather is cold and your apartment is freezing, just put it on the top of the stove for night).
Preheat the oven to 450 f then turn it down to 325 f. Take the casserole out of the fridge and bring to simmer on top of the stove. Cover the casserole and set in a lower third of preheated oven. Regulate heat so that it simmers very slowly. Let it simmer for two hours.
While the beef is cooking, prepare onions and mushrooms. This takes time.
Oignons glaces a brun:
brown-braised onions are used whenever you wish a brown effect, for example in stews, with poultry or vegetables. 18 to 24 peeled onions about an inch (that's it!) in diameter are sauteed in 1.5 tb butter and 1.5 tb oil.
When the butter and oil are bubbling in the skillet or pan, add the onions and saute over moderate heat for 10 minutes, rolling onions so they will brown as evenly as possible (don't count on leaving the stove for these 10 minutes). Be careful not to break their skins!
Then, pour in 1/2 cup of bouillon, dry white wine or water (bouillon works the best for me, since I need it for the stew anyway), season to taste and add herb bouquet.
Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes until onions are tender, but retain their shape and the liquid has evaporated (better not to poke them now, or they will loose their shape).
They are done, set them aside.
Prepare the mushrooms. These mushrooms can be used in other dishes too. To brown nicely and retain the juices, mushrooms must be very dry (I hope you did not use all of your paper towel drying meat), butter must be very hot and the mushrooms must not be crowded while frying. If you saute too many mushrooms, they steam and their juices escape. So, make sure that each mushroom has a place under a sun and that they do not touch each other on the pan!
2 tb butter and 1 tb oil is put on a pan over high heat. As soon as the butter foam has began to subside, add the mushrooms. Toss and shake the pan for 4 to 5 minutes.
During this saute the mushrooms will first absorb the fat.
In 2-3 minutes the fat will reappear and the mushrooms will begin to brown.
As soon as they are browned lightly, remove them.
By the time you are done doing the onions and mushrooms, check the meat. If it is tender (usually takes 2-3 hours with Georgian beef), pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan.
Wash the casserole and return the beef and bacon to it. distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms over the meat.
Return to the saucepan (this is usually when my guests start coming in and they all gather around to watch me do a sauce reduction. Very effective way to brag:-)). Skim the fat off the sauce. Simmer sauce for a minute or two, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat the spoon lightly.
If too thin, boil it down rapidly.
If too thick, mix a few tablespoons of bouillon.
Taste carefully for seasoning. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables.
Recipe may be completed up to this point and the reheated when the guests arrive. In this case: About 15- 20 minutes before serving, bring to simmer, cover and simmer very slowly for 10 minutes, Pouring sauce over the meat and vegetables.
For immediate serving: cover the casserole and simmer for 2-3 minutes, Pouring sauce over the meat and vegetables.
Serve it with boiled potatoes, rice or noodles. Decorate with parsley springs.
The end product: the dish will not look very fancy (pour it into deep a dish to hold the sauce), adding to the unexpectedly delicious taste effect. The meat has to be so tender, the fork must pierce it easily and it melts in your mouth. The meat should taste like wine, grapes. The onions should be soft and buttery and mushroom taste distinct only when they are fresh, otherwise they add a bit of taste, but not too much.
Enjoy and please take two days to prepare this, it sounds like a mess, but after you cook it twice, it starts making sense.
Having a helper helps :-)