Chefdruck’s Tasty Tuesday
After much coaxing, I finally dragged Steve into a theater this Sunday night to see Julie and Julia. For some strange reason, a movie about two chicks cooking just didn’t appeal to him. But using the full guilt weight of our anniversary finally won my argument, and we settled in for a movie about my two favorite topics: French cooking and blogging.
We both walked out thoroughly inspired and headed straight home to dust off our copy of Mastering The Art of French Cooking I made boeuf bourguignon, straight from the book, for once ignoring the recipe handed down from my mom. And as the aroma of beef and wine coming together slowly to make the magic that is that French beef stew, Steve and I enjoyed a simple meal of… you guessed it: big chunks of tomato tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette over toasted peasant bread.
- Remove the rind and cut bacon into lardons (sticks, 1/4 inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long). Simmer rind and bacon for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts of water. Drain and Dry. (I only cut the lardons but omitted the boiling as I was not dealing with a chunk of bacon)
- Preheat over to 450 degrees.
- Saute the bacon in oil over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with slotted spoon. Set casserole aside. Reheat until fat is almost smoking before you saute the beef.
- Dry the beef in paper towels. It will not brown if it is damp. Saute it, a few pieces at a time, in the hot oil and bacon fat until nicely browned on all sides. Add to the bacon.
- In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the sauteing fat.
- Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with the salt and pepper. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef 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 minutes more. (This browns the flour and covers the meat with a light crust.) Remove casserole, and turn oven down to 325 degrees.)
- Stir in the wine, and enough stock or bouillon so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs and bacon rind. Bring to a simmer on top of the stove. Then cover the casserole and set in lower third of preheated oven. Regulate heat so liquid simmers very slowly for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.
- While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms. Set them aside until needed.
- When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan. Wash out the casserole and return the beef and bacon to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms over the meat.
- 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 a spoon lightly. If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons of stock or canned bouillon. Taste carefully before seasoning. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetable.
- For immediate serving: Cover the casserole and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times. Serve in its casserole, or arrange the stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes, noodles or rice, and decorated with sprigs of parsley.
- For later serving: When cold, cover and refrigerate. About 15 to 20 minutes before serving, bring to the simmer, cover, and simmer very slowly for 10 minutes, occasionally basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce.