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

Rabbit in Mustard Sauce

I sincerely apologize for not having the planned post up Friday, but I had completely forgotten that The Young One and I had an appointment to spend the day at Kent State for something called “Golden Flash Day” where I spent 6 hours with 500 other glassy-eyed parents who looked as if they, too, wondered how the hell they’re going to pay for the next 4 years.  They served us both breakfast and lunch – apparently as some sort of compensation for telling us that the school wants $19,000 a year to educate our kids – but that’s a subject for another post (the Spin Cycle this week is “Why??” and this would be the perfect Spin).

At any rate, today’s recipe was inspired by Hank Shaw, Master of All That is Hunted, Fished and Foraged.  Apparently he and Elise Bauer of Simply Recipes are quite chummy because the original recipe, which I’ve adapted to suit my particular dietary needs, is one of many guest posts by Hank on Elise’s site.

And a delicious recipe it is.  We’ve come to love rabbit; it’s really a tender, mild-tasting meat – if you didn’t know you were eating bunny, you’d truly think it was chicken.  Well, that’s true at least of domestic rabbit, which is farmed, and is the kind we buy (if I’m not mistaken, it’s illegal to sell wild meats that are hunted, and I’m not quite up – yet – to going out and slaying the critters myself).

This is a simple recipe, but really quite elegant, although my picture isn’t quite as nice as the one with the original recipe.  The meat is tender and the sauce is tangy and rich; it was just lovely served over a my Cauliflower-Celery Root Puree.

If you just can’t bring yourself to eat rabbit, this would be great with chicken thighs.

Rabbit in Mustard Sauce - a French Bistro Classic, farm-raised rabbit is braised in a creamy, piquant sauce.

Rabbit in Mustard Sauce
Serves: 4
  • 1 rabbit, cut into serving pieces
  • kosher sea salt
  • 4 tablespoons ghee or clarified butter
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 4 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  1. Salt the rabbit well and set aside at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, but no longer than an hour.
  2. Melt the ghee over medium heat in a wide, shallow enameled Dutch oven or skillet with a lid. Pat the rabbit pieces dry and slowly brown them in the ghee, in batches if necessary; do not allow the pieces to touch. Remove the rabbit to a bowl or platter and set aside. Add the onion to the pan and cook until golden, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Stir in the white wine and increase the heat to high, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the mustard, thyme and water and bring to a rolling boil.
  4. Decrease the heat to low; return the rabbit to the pan, turning to coat them with the sauce. Cover and simmer gently for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the rabbit is very tender.
  5. Gently transfer the rabbit pieces to a platter and keep warm. Increase the heat under the pan to high and bring to a boil; reduce the sauce by half. Remove from the heat and add the coconut milk and parsley. Stir to combine and return the rabbit to the pan. Coat with the sauce and serve at once.
  6. Nutrition (per serving): 444 calories, 28.4g total fat, 127.5mg cholesterol, 455.9mg sodium, 732.7mg potassium, 5.3g carbohydrates, 1.3g fiber, <1g sugar, 36.5g protein

Pommes Anna

I was watching No Reservations recently when Anthony Bourdain said something about cooking not being so much a calling as an affliction.  I’m afraid this is especially true when you’re a food blogger.

I almost didn’t post this recipe, which was part of our lovely Christmas dinner, simply because I’m not thrilled with the photos.  Surely I’m not the only blogger – who isn’t also a professional photographer, that is – who, when faced with a particularly tasty dish, but less less than inspiring photograph, who says, “I wonder if I’ve got a recipe somewhere with a better picture I can post instead?”

Such was my dilemma with this recipe, which is absolutely delicious and just as stunning, visually, when properly executed and photographed.  Unfortunately, in this case, the photography portion rather fell short – partly because the cake came out in two sections when I turned it out of the pan (a hazard with the particular dish), and I had to reassemble it, and because my choice of serving vehicles were a little…monotone.  Ah, well; from what I understand, even professionals have their bad days, so I’m going to suck it up, realize that both Tastespotting and Foodgawker will probably turn this down – it certainly wouldn’t be the first time – and post what is probably Beloved’s favorite potato dish.

Pommes Anna is a rustic but classic French preparation of potatoes, reputedly named after the most loved and respected courtesan in 16th-century Paris. Traditionally it is cooked in a special copper pan designed especially for the dish, but since I share Alton Brown’s disdain for single purpose kitchen utensils (to say nothing of the fact that copper cookware is obscenely expensive; the Pommes Anna pan on the Williams Sonoma website is $400), I cook mine in my well-seasoned, 12″ cast iron skillet.

Like many French dishes, Pommes Anna is not difficult to make, but it is exacting:  skip a step or take a shortcut, and the finished product will suffer.  In this case it won’t be the taste – potatoes and butter are pretty much going to taste good no matter what you do to it – but in the presentation.  If you don’t press down on the potatoes, it will fall apart when you turn it out of the dish.  If you don’t shake the pan occasionally, the potatoes on the bottom will stick when you turn it out of the dish.  If you don’t start it on the stovetop, the potatoes won’t brown properly.

Now, having said all of that, this is going to taste absolutely marvelous even if it doesn’t come out in one golden, crisp-yet-tender disc.  I make mine with Japanese sweet potatoes, although you can use regular sweet potatoes or white potatoes, if you’re so inclined, but no matter the type of spud you use, it is simply a rich, delicious dish.

The best thing?  If you use sweet potatoes, either regular orange or Japanese, it’s a rich, delicious dish that’s Whole30 complaint.

Pommes Anna

Pommes Anna

Pommes Anna

Serves: 6
  • 3 large Japanese sweet potato, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup ghee or clarified butter, melted
  • salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  2. Liberally brush the inside of a 12″ saute pan or cast iron skillet with some of the melted ghee. Arrange the potato slices in concentric rings emanating from the center of the pan, forming layers until all of the potato slices have been used.. Carefully brush each layer with clarified butter and lightly season each layer with salt and pepper.
  3. Place the pan on the stove and cook, undisturbed, over medium heat until golden brown on the bottom, about 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the potatoes to the oven and cook until browned and cooked through, about 30 minutes, pressing the potatoes occasionally to compress and shaking the pan to prevent the potatoes sticking to the pan.
  4. Drain any excess butter from the pan and carefully flip the potato cake out onto a cutting board. Slice into wedges and serve.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 146 calories, 10.3g total fat, 27.1mg cholesterol, 37.1mg sodium, 222.1mg potassium, 13.1g carbohydrates, 2g fiber, 2.7g sugar, 1.1g protein

Veal Stew

Happy Thanksgiving Eve, y’all.

I didn’t post yesterday – it wasn’t intentional, I was just so darn busy.  We woke up, got The Young One off to school and headed out to pick up our Thanksgiving turkey from our poultry farmer, along with two quart jars of homemade mincemeat and our weekly egg purchase.  We really like our poultry farmer and his wife and stayed and visited with them for a bit (they are both just a hoot), then we went out to Whitefeather Meats to pick up our latest hog (you should check out their re-designed website, it rocks).  While we were there, we picked up two lamb shanks and a pheasant, of all things, which I plan to cook for Christmas dinner.

Afterwards, we headed home and put away the pork, lamb, pheasant, eggs and mincemeat and I dropped Mr. Turkey into a brine of salt, water and pure Grade B maple syrup and stuck him in the fridge in the garage.  Then I dropped a grass-fed beef arm roast in the slow cooker for dinner, and made us some lunch before heading into the office and working like a madwoman because I’m only staying at work until noon today so I can go home and start prepping for The Big Meal tomorrow.

Whew.  I’m tired just typing all that.

At any rate, we also recently picked up a pound of humanely raised veal stew meat (from the grocery store, of all places).  I don’t have a lot of experience with veal, but decided to give it a whirl and I am glad I did – this stew was rich and decadent and delicious.

I will confess and tell you that I used cream in the dish, although I’ve given a dairy-free option, and attempted to thicken the sauce with egg yolks.  It didn’t work out quite like I’d hoped – the end product was more like a soup than a stew – but the consistency didn’t detract from it at all.   It felt like, and would be excellent as, a good “special occasion” dish.  Without a lot of work – it is, after all, just a stew, albeit a rather fancy one.  You could call this a Blanquette de Veau, although technically the veal shouldn’t be browned in the classic preparation.

You can make this Whole30 compliant by using the coconut milk and subbing the Yukon gold potatoes with white-fleshed sweet potatoes.

Veal Stew
Veal Stew
Veal Stew

Serves: 4
  • 1 pound veal stew meat, cut into 2″ cubes
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or butter
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • pinch ground cloves
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and thickly sliced
  • 1 stalk celery, roughly chopped
  • 4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 2 sprigs thyme, tied with kitchen twine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 medium Yukon gold potatoes, washed and quartered
  • 4 ounces crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or butter
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk or 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Heat 2 tablespoons ghee in a 2 1/2 quart Dutch oven over high heat and cook the veal until browned on all sides, 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion and cloves; continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the onion softens and is beginning to turn translucent, about 5 minutes more.
  2. Add the carrot, celery, thyme and bay leaf to the pot and stir in the chicken stock. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil; reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, or until the veal is tender. 20 minutes before the stew is done, add the potatoes to the Dutch oven, recover, and cook until the potatoes are fork tender.
  3. After the potatoes have been added to the stew, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of ghee in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms in a single layer, taking care not to crowd them, and cook, turning frequently, until the mushrooms are nicely browned. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
  4. Once the meat and potatoes are done, remove them from the Dutch oven using a slotted spoon and add them to the mushrooms in the sauté pan; keep warm. Pick the thyme sprigs and bay leaf from the the liquid in the pot (you may also remove the celery if you wish).
  5. Whisk egg yolks and coconut milk or heavy cream together in a bowl, and slowly stir into the liquid in the Dutch oven. Cook over very low heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, taking care not to let the mixture boil. Return the meat, potatoes and mushrooms to the pot; stir in the lemon juice. Taste, season as needed with salt and pepper, and serve.
  6. Nutrition (per serving): 604 calories, 30.8g total fat, 263.8mg cholesterol, 490.9mg sodium, 1657.5mg potassium, 46.5g carbohydrates, 5.4g fiber, 8.4g sugar, 35.9g protein.


Steak Tartare

I’ve written here some about how I don’t eat grains, with the exception of the occasional bit of locally grown sweet corn or white rice – I once pointed out that grains, by their very nature, must be processed and then cooked before they can be consumed.  You just can’t go out into a wheat field, pluck a stalk and start chowing down on it.  And we all agree that processed foods are bad for us, correct?

I had a reader take exception to that, and tell me we don’t eat raw meat, either.

Well…yes, I do.

Mostly in the form of fish – I absolutely love sashimi – but I’ll quite happily scarf down some raw beef, too.  When we got our latest side of beef, instead of getting a standing rib roast, opted for 6-week dry aged rib eye steaks, which means we had to wait an extra month before we received our steaks (all of our beef is aged two weeks between slaughter and cutting).  We were told we’d get a pound or two of ground beef from the trimmings and that it would be the best ground beef we’d ever eat.

You just don’t make a statement like that and not expect me to obsess over what I’m going to do with it, but it didn’t take me long to decide we were going to eat it raw in the form of steak tartare.

Steak tartare is nothing more than raw, minced beef; often mixed with condiments such as grated onion, mustard and Worcestershire sauce and topped with a raw egg yolk, which acts as a sauce as the tartare is eaten.  It was once considered haute cuisine, but has fallen out of favor in recent years, mostly due to the Mad Cow scare.  I certainly wouldn’t eat commercial CAFO beef raw, especially ground, but since I know where our beef comes from and how it’s processed I had absolutely no problem eating this marvelous ground rib eye, along with a pastured egg yolk, au naturale.

And it was delicious.

So don’t fear the raw meat, especially if you can get grass-finished beef from a reliable source.  And think of the French, who sometimes make tartare with…horse.  Which makes even me go “ewwwww.”

As written, this recipe makes 4 appetizer portions; you can also make it two entrees if you like (which is what we did.)  We ate it on Belgian endive, but if you eat bread, it is traditionally served with some sort of toast, mostly rye.  Slices of toasted baguette would work well, too.

Note:  The recipe calls for beef tenderloin simply because it’s the most tender cut of the animal, with a mild flavor.  If the price is just prohibitive, however, use a good, lean, less expensive cut like top round.

Steak Tartare
Steak Tartare
Serves: 4
  • 8 ounces beef tenderloin
  • 1 tablespoons grainy mustard
  • 1 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (wheat and HFCS free)
  • 1 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 1 tablespoons chopped cornichons (tiny gherkins)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
  • 2 anchovy filets
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
  • 4 large egg yolks
  1. Grind or finely chop the tenderloin. Gently mix it with the remaining ingredients except for the egg yolks. Tightly wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour to allow the flavors to blend.
  2. Divide the beef mixture evenly between four plates and pat into round patties, making a depression in the center. Place a whole egg yolk in each depression. Garnish each plate with additional mustard, capers, onions and cornichons. Serve with endive leaves.
  3. Nutrition (per serving): 209 calories, 15.1g total fat, 230.4mg cholesterol, 887.2mg sodium, 256.6mg potassium, 2.5g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, <1g sugar, 15g protein.