Channeling Julia Child
French cooking doesn't need to be intimidating. Yes, it takes a little more time to prepare, but the rich flavors and hearty aromas coming from your kitchen make it well worth the wait.
If you've seen the movie Julie & Julia you know that Julie Powell tries to recreate all the recipes in Julia Child's cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. One of Child's best known recipes, which is featured prominently in the film, is her boeuf bourguignon (also known as beef stew).
On a chilly winter night, there's nothing better than a bowl full of rich, thick stew. And, what better recipe to use than the original?
Boeuf Bourguignon recipe
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 to 4 pounds beef shank, cut into 2-inch cubes
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 3 cups dry red wine, such as merlot or cabernet
- 2 cups beef stock
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon orange peel
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 18 pearl onions
- 1/2 pound mushrooms
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Dry the cubes of beef with a paper towel and add as many pieces as will fit in 1 layer to the pan. Brown the beef on all sides. When 1 piece of meat is browned, transfer to a large casserole dish, add more oil if needed, and add another piece until all the meat is browned. Transfer the meat to a casserole dish.
- Sauté the carrots in the same pan for about 2 minutes; add the carrots to the casserole.
- Discard any leftover oil. Pour 1 cup of wine into the same pan and bring to a simmer, scraping up any brown bits. Pour this liquid over the beef and carrots in the casserole.
- Place the casserole on the stove over medium heat and add the rest of the wine and beef stock so the cubes are just barely covered. Stir in the bay leaf, thyme, orange peel, tomato paste, and garlic to the casserole and bring to a simmer.
- Cover and place in the oven for 30 minutes.
- Lower the temperature of the oven to 300 degrees F and cook for 3 to 4 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.
- While the meat is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms.
- For the onions: Cut off both ends of the onions. Place them in a 3-quart saucepan; add 1/2-inch of water and a pinch of salt; cover and simmer, stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes, or until onions are just tender; set aside.
- For the mushrooms: Remove the stems and slice the tops in half; sauté the mushrooms in 1 tablespoon of olive oil for 2 to 3 minutes, or until browned; set aside.
- To finish the stew: When the beef is tender, remove the casserole from the oven and empty its contents into a sieve set over a large, heavy saucepan. Wash out the casserole dish and return the beef and carrots to it; add the onions and mushrooms to the casserole dish. Skim the fat off the sauce and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. You should be left with 2 to 3 cups of sauce. Remove from heat and whisk in the flour and butter; bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly so the sauce thickens until it coats the back of a spoon; pour this sauce over the meat and vegetables, and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Serve immediately in bowls or over rice.
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