Every summer, my family and I would spend two months at my grandparent’s house in Canada. During that time, grandpa would take me and my brother to the pool, play baseball with us in the park, fish with us in the lake and spot us while we climbed any tree that we could find. Grandma, on the other hand, took every opportunity to teach us everything there was to know about cooking. I’m sure it fell on my brother’s deaf ears, but because she was so excited about it, so was I. Before the food network, there was PBS, and we spent hours watching cooking shows, and grandma’s favorite chef by a long shot as Julia Child. I knew a little about Julia growing up, but after reading “Julie and Julia” and seeing the film, I was inspired to read “My Life in France,” her autobiography of sorts. One of the recipes that she described in such detail was beef bourguignon and since that seems to best embody the hearty, boozy vibe of central France, it seemed the natural choice and perfect for the season.
After searching through a bunch of recipes looking for one that would take about one hour rather than three, I finally gave up and realized that this was something that would not, and therefore probably should not be a quick fix. Since I had little else to do today but watch football, it worked out perfectly. I wouldn’t be making this after a long day at work, but it’s doable on any lazy weekend day. To be honest, I wasn’t sure how much I was going to really like it. The ingredients alone are simple, and the recipe lacked that one punch of an ingredient. No curry, no sriracha, nothing that would make me go “hmmm…. what is that flavor?” I couldn’t have been more wrong. After three hours slow simmering hours, it was deeeeelicious! Totally worth it the time. The effort in this dish comes from having to cook all the ingredients separately before letting them all meld together for hours, but it’s by no means difficult. And I reiterate, totally worth it.
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- 2-2 1/2 pounds stew beef chunks
- 6 ounces center cut bacon
- about 4 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into a 1" pieces
- 1 yellow onion, sliced
- 2 tsp garlic
- 1/2 cup Cognac
- 1 bottle dry red wine (I used a Cote du Rhone)
- 1 cup beef broth
- 1 TB tomato paste
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- about 2 TB butter, to cook the various parts
- 4 TB flour
- 1 pound pearl onions (I used frozen)
- 1 pound cremini mushrooms
- salt and pepper
- parley, for garnish
- buttered egg noodles, for serving
- wine, for drinking
- Heat a bit of butter in a large Dutch oven or stew pot. 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.
- Season the beef generously with salt and toss with the flour. Add the flour-coated beef to the hot pan, but be sure not to crowd the pan, so you will need to work in batches. 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, salt and 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. (I thought this was going to be much more dramatic than it turned out to be. Don't be scared. You won't sear your eyebrows).
- Put the meat and bacon back into the pot with the juices. Add the bottle of wine plus the beef broth to almost cover the meat. Add the tomato paste and thyme. Bring to a simmer, cover the pot let stew on the stove in a simmer for about 2- 2 1/2 hours until the meat and vegetables are very tender when pierced with a fork.
- In a separate pan, saute and brown the frozen onions in some butter. Add onions to the stew.
- Saute the mushrooms in some 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, place atop the buttered egg noodles and sprinkle with parsley.
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