Beef Bourguignon

Julia Child.  She revolutionized the way the United States not only cooks, but views, food, and collectively we owe her a great debt of gratitude.

Beef Bourguignon, that gorgeous peasant dish of beef stewed in wine with bacon, mushrooms and onions, is arguably her seminal recipe; you can barely think of Julia Child without thinking of Beef Bourguignon, and vice versa.  And for good reason – it is most likely the best beef stew you will ever, ever eat.  Julia herself wrote in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, “[It is] certainly one of the most delicious beef dishes concocted by man.”

Who am I to argue with that?  Why would I argue with that?  I don’t disagree with her at all.

This is a somewhat streamlined version of the recipe that appears in MTAOFC.  The most notable deviation from the original is the substitution of tapioca flour for wheat flour and ghee for butter; nor do I bother with the traditional bouquet garni or thickening the sauce.  But while the list of ingredients is long, and the instructions seem longer, it’s not a difficult dish by any means – just rather time consuming.

With 607 calories, 31 grams of fat and over 22 grams of carbohydrates per serving (and I’ve increased the servings to 8 from the original 6), this is not “diet food” by any stretch of the imagination.  But who cares?  Julia certainly didn’t, and neither should you.

Beef Bourguignon. The classic French dish of beef stewed in wine with bacon, mushrooms and onions.

Click the image to enlarge

Beef Bourguignon
Serves: 8
  • 6 ounces bacon, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 pounds stew meat, cut into 2” cubes
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and sliced
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca flour
  • 3 cups dry red wine
  • 3 cups beef stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 tablespoon [url href=”” target=”_blank”]tomato paste[/url]
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf, crumbled
  • 1 pound new potatoes
  • Braised Onions
  • 24 white “pearl” onions, peeled
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons [url href=”” target=”_blank”]ghee[/url]
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup beef stock, preferably homemade
  • 4 parsley sprigs
  • 1/2 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Sautéed Mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  1. Preheat oven to 450 F.
  2. In a 9” to 10” oven-proof enameled Dutch oven or casserole, fry the chopped bacon in the olive oil over low heat until slightly browned and most of the fat has been rendered out. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Dry the beef well with paper towels. Increase the heat to high and cook the beef, a few pieces at a time, until well-browned on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside with the bacon.
  3. Reduce the heat slightly and add the carrot and onion to the pan, cooking until the vegetables begins to soften and brown. Pour off any remaining fat.
  4. Return the beef and bacon to the pan with the vegetables and season wit the salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the tapioca flour and toss to lightly coat the beef. Set the the pan, uncovered, in the center of the oven for 4 minutes.
  5. Toss the beef and return to the oven for 4 minutes more. Remove the pan, and reduce the oven temperature to 325 F. Stir in the wine and beef stock; add the tomato paste, garlic, thyme and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer on top of the stove, then cover and place in the oven. Braise the beef for 2 1/2 or 3 hours, or until the meat is fork tender.
  6. While the beef is in the oven, prepare the onions, mushrooms and potatoes.
  7. [b]For the onions:[/b] Heat the ghee and olive oil in a small sauté pan over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat slightly and sauté the onions, for about 10 minutes, stirring or rolling the onions frequently so they will brown as evenly as possible and taking care not to break the skins. Sprinkle the onions with salt and pepper and stir in the beef stock and herbs. Cover and simmer over low heat for 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are tender, but still retain their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Remove the bay leaf and the stems of the parsley and thyme. Set aside.
  8. [b]For the mushrooms:[/b] Heat the ghee and olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the mushrooms in a single layer, taking care not to crowd them, and sauté, stirring or tossing frequently, until they have given off their liquid and are nicely browned. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  9. [b]For the potatoes:[/b] scrub the whole new potatoes gently under running water. Bring 2 to 3 quarts of water to a boil; add a tablespoon of salt and the potatoes. Boil until fork tender, about 15 or 20 minutes. Drain. When cool enough to handle, carefully slice each in half. Set aside.
  10. When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the pan through a sieve set over a large saucepan. Wipe the Dutch oven or casserole with a clean paper towel and return the meat to the pan; stir in the onions, mushrooms and potatoes. Skim as much of the fat from the sauce as possible and return to the pan with meat and vegetables. Cover and simmer gently, stirring frequently, for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the stew is completely heated through, and serve.
  11. Nutrition (per serving): 607 calories, 31.1g total fat, 141.8mg cholesterol, 883.8mg sodium, 1437.4mg potassium, 22.5g carbohydrates, 3g fiber, 3.5g sugar, 44.7g protein

Beef Short Ribs with Thyme

I love beef short ribs.  They are meaty and rich, and actually quite versatile – ask any Korean cook (I looooooove Korean barbecued short ribs).  My favorite way to cook them, though, is to braise them.  Long slow cooking in a hearty braising liquid transforms tough short ribs into succulent, tender falling-off-the-bone meat.  It’s also a dead-easy cooking method – sear them, add your vegetables, stock and seasoning, cover and let them simmer until done, only checking now and then to make sure your braising liquid hasn’t boiled away and to turn the ribs so they don’t stick to the bottom of the pan and burn.

Note:  I used homemade beef stock, beef tallow and arrowroot powder for this recipe, and the recipe reflects this.  You can substitute canned beef broth if you must (but use the low-sodium kind, or your finished dish will be very salty), and any fat that will withstand high heat for the tallow.  You can also substitute the arrowroot powder with an equal amount of corn starch, or triple the amount of all-purpose flour.

Beef Short Ribs with Thyme

Beef Short Ribs with Thyme

serves 3

1 1/2 pound beef short ribs
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
4 cups beef stock
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
1/4 cup water
1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch slices
2 large celery stalks, chopped
2 tablespoons beef tallow

Rub the ribs with the salt, pepper and garlic powder.

Heat the fat over high heat in a large Dutch oven, preferably cast iron or enameled cast iron, and sear the short ribs, about 2 minutes on each side.

Add the onion, carrot, celery, beef stock and thyme to the Dutch oven. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 1 ½ to 2 hours, or until the ribs are tender. Remove the ribs to a plate, cover and keep warm.

Whisk the arrowroot into the water and add to the liquid in the pot. Increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until thickened enough to coat the back of the spoon.

Plate the ribs, spooning some of the sauce over them, and serve immediately.

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Posted in participation with Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesday

Posted in participation with Real Sustenance’s Seasonal Sunday

Guinness Braised Beef

No Spin Cycle today – I know, I know, I said it would be today.  I seem to be full of Spin Cycle Fail this week; I keep starting to work on the darn thing and then one thing or another comes up.  I’d say “tomorrow” but at this point, who knows?

Cooking seems to be going the same way.  I did NOT get to make the early St. Patrick’s Day dinner this weekend – I ended up making it on, well, St. Patrick’s Day.  And, alas, I didn’t make the Bacon and Cabbage Strudel, just the filling.  But good heavens – the filling was good enough!  Very, very tasty.

But it was the Guinness Braised Beef that was truly wonderful.  I honestly did NOT expect it to be this good (I’m not a big beer drinker, although when I do drink it I prefer a stout).  It was incredibly flavorful and we enjoyed it a great deal.

And as further proof of my distractions lately – only one picture, of the finished product.

You can probably substitute the fresh thyme with about a half teaspoon of dried, but if you can get your hands on some fresh (some lingered in my garden, believe it or not), you should use it.

Guinness Braised Beef

serves 6

1 1/2 lbs. round or chuck steak, trimmed of fat and cut into 1″ cubes

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 large onion, roughly chopped

3 large carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds

salt & pepper to taste

2 – 3 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 bay leaves

1 bottle Guinness (about 12 oz.)

1 cup beef stock (canned is okay, but use low-sodium)

2 teaspoons brown sugar

2 -3 sprigs Thyme

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Heat the oven to 450º F.

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large, oven-proof skillet with a lid or Dutch oven; add the bay leaves and briefly fry until they turn brown.  Remove them and reserve.

Carefully dry the beef, and cook it until well browned.  Don’t crowd it in the pan or it won’t brown properly – cook it in batches, adding a little oil to the pan, if necessary.  Remove it to a plate and set aside.

Lower the heat and add the onions, cooking them until they begin to soften and turn a nice golden color.  Add the carrots, stir to coat them and cook for another minute or two.

Return the beef to the pan.  Sprinkle the flour gradually into the beef, stirring to coat the meat and vegetables.  Set the skillet or Dutch oven in the oven, uncovered, for 5 minutes.  Remove it to the stove top and stir well.  Return the pan to the oven for another 5 minutes and, again, remove it to the stove top and stir.  The flour should now be browned as well as the beef.

Lower the oven to 350º F.

Season the meat mixture with salt and pepper, and add the brown sugar, Guinness, beef stock, thyme sprigs and reserved bay leaves.  Stir well, cover and return to the oven.

Cook until the meat is tender – about 1 1/2 hours – stirring every 30 minutes or so.  Add the apple cider vinegar the last 30 minutes of cooking.  Remove the bay leaves and stems from the thyme before serving.

Serve hot with mashed potatoes, noodles, or – as the original recipe suggested – dumplings.

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