Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Beef Bourguignon

I personally cannot stand the taste of alcohol (wine, beer, anything), but I love cooking with it. The alcohol flavor cooks away, but only after it acts as a flavor enhancer (alcohol can react with any oxidizing substance to form aldehydes -- compounds responsible for flavors such as almond, cinnamon and vanilla among others) and of course, the flavor of the good wine itself, minus the actual alcohol.

I suggest you make this on a weekend when you have a few hours free, as not everybody works from home like yours truly and is able to check a simmering stew now and then. If you don't simmer this for at least a few hours the beef will be very tough.


2 lbs. beef, 1.5 inch cubes
salt and pepper
1/4 cup neutral oil (I used canola)
4 onions, diced
1 cup good red wine
6 carrots, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 bouquet garni
boiling water
chopped parsley for garnish
1 frozen cube or a few spoonfuls of demi glace (if you have it)

1. Toss the beef cubes in a large bowl with flour, salt, and pepper.

2. In a dutch oven over high heat, add the oil. It should be smoking hot. Sear and brown the meat on all sides in BATCHES. I did three batches myself. If you add it all at once you'll suck all the heat out of your pot, no searing will happen, and the beef will boil and look horrible. Set aside as you sear them off.

3. Once the beef is set aside, add the onion and reduce to medium heat. Sprinkle some flour over the onion, and just as they soften a little, add the red wine. Scrape up the beef flavoring from the bottom of the pot into the cooking liquid, so the pan is "clean". Bring to a boil.

4. Return the beef to the pot, along with the carrots, garlic, and bouquet garni (and the demi glace if you have it) . Add enough boiling water to cover the meat by 1/3 (covering the contents plus another 1/3 of the depth beyond that). You need to allow for this to cook back down for the next two hours. Simmer. For two hours.

5. (optional) I removed, with tongs, the carrots and beef cubes into a ceramic bowl, topped it with foil, and kept it hot in the oven set to low. Strain the liquid, return it to the pot. Toss out the strained onion bits and boquet garni. Add a tablespoon of butter to the gravy and stir to combine it evenly.

I served this over a big spoonful of mashed potatoes, then the gravy pours gently over the whole pile. Garnish with some parsley and enjoy. Have some more of your red wine with it, and you're a better foodie then I am.

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