Making boeuf bourgoignon was one of my ten foodie resolutions for 2007. My dear Swedish friend Annika served a version of that French classic at a dinner party in Edinburgh early last year, and I decided then and there that I want to learn how to make it myself. So when Johanna, Jeanne and Andrew announced their new food blogging event, Waiter, there's something in my..., deciding that the first round is focusing on STEW, I knew this was the perfect moment to cross off one of the items on my to-do list.
And so I cooked a batch of boeuf bourgoignon, using a recipe from Anthony Bourdain himself. When searching through my cookbooks, food magazines and eGullet archives, I came across innumerable recipes, one more complicated than the other. Eventually I decided to go with a simple, and allegedly the authentic version of this über-French stew. That means no bacon and no mushrooms, though feel free to add those, if you're so inclined..
It's a pretty straightforward dish (unless you opt for Thomas Keller's version*, of course) - chop, fry, simmer, let cool, reheat and eat. Keep in mind that boeuf bourguignon, like many other stews, is considerably better on a day after, when the flavours have had ample time to mingle and develop. So if you want to serve this for appreciative guests, do some planning ahead and start the night before.
I didn't change much of the recipe, though I did simmer mine in the oven and almost doubled the amount of red wine. Please refer to the original recipe for the ingredients and process.
Anthony Bourdain's Boeuf Bourguignon, my wayAdapted from Washington Post 22 December 2004*
1 kg of beef shoulder or neck, cut into 4 cm pieces
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 Tbsp olive oil
4 small onions, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp plain flour
500 ml red Burgundy wine
6 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 clove garlic
1 bouquet garni [a tied bundle of herbs, usually thyme, bay and parsley]
A little chopped flat-leaf parsley
Day One: cut the beef into chunks and season with salt and pepper.
On a heavy-bottomed frying pan, heat some oil on a high heat, then fry the meat in batches until dark golden brown all over. When browned, put into a casserole dish (see the picture on the right).
When you're done with the meat, then reduce the heat and fry the onions gently on the same pan until softened (about 10 minutes). Add them to the casserole, too.
Sprinkle the flour on the frying pan, stir to catch all the juicy meaty bits that have stuck to the pan. Add the red wine, stirring, and bring to the boil. Pour over the meat in the casserole dish.
Add the carrots, garlic and bouquet garni.
Pour enough water into the pot, so it covers the meat by few centimetres (you want about 3 parts liquid to 2 parts meat).
Cover, put into a 200C oven and simmer for about 2.5 hours. The meat should be more or less done by that time.
Take out of the oven, cool and and put the pot into a cool garage/larder/fridge overnight.
Day Two: about half an hour before you're ready to serve, put back into a 200C oven to reheat and finish cooking. The dish is ready when meat is really, really tender.
Before serving, remove the bouquet garni and discard. Add plenty of chopped parsley and serve with boiled potatoes.
The Chef suggests a bottle of Côte de Nuit Villages Pommard with this, but a more humble red would do, too.
PS: That's how break-apart-with-a-fork tender meat looks like:
* The same article "Boeuf Bourguignon, by Degrees" shares Boeuf Bourguignon recipes from Ina Garten (an American chef known for her Barefoot Contessa show at Food Network) and from Thomas Keller. Keller's recipe, as also printed in his book Bouchon, lists no less than 45 ingredients (thou some, like salt and pepper, occur more than once)!!