Boeuf Bourguignon

How did I live not eating this for all my life?? I’m not talking about just any American style beef stew or any other stew.  Don’t misunderstand me, I’ve had pretty darn good beef stew (in all different varieties and ingredients), but this Boeuf Bourguignon was so simple without any pretentiousness I instantly fell in love with it.  Why am I making such a big deal?  Well, because just as I said, this is such a simple dish, but oh so special.  I love that combination!  I looked at Julia Child’s recipe, and it looked very delicious, but frankly, I didn’t want my stew to be swimming in bacon, so, I got my recipe from Les Halles Cookbook (courtesy of Anthony Bourdain). 
Before serving the stew, I served the radishes with butter and salt as an appetizer.

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I couldn’t find any Spring radishes (which are longer than these traditionally round ones), so I just sliced the round radishes wedges.  I took about 1/4 cup European butter and added about 1 Tablespoon of fleur de sel (you can add kosher or sea salt), mix well.  Just dip the radishes in the butter and enjoy!! Both my girls who do not like radishes kept eating this, thanks to the butterSmile

Note:  Europeans must be thinking “European butter”?  Well, American butter has less fat content than the European butter, so does our heavy cream (which is your double cream). 

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For the boeuf bourguignon:
2, 9-lb. paleron of beef, or chicken steak or same amount of shoulder or neck, cut into 1-1/2- inch pieces
1 garlic clove
1 bouquet garni (various herbs tied into a bouquet)
1/4 cup of olive oil
4 onions, thinly sliced
1 tbs. all-purpose flour
1 cup red Burgundy
6 carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
Salt and pepper
A little chopped flat parsley

Stage 1
Season the meat with salt and pepper.
In the Dutch oven, heat the oil over high heat until it is almost smoking. Add the meat in batches — not all at once! — and sear on all sides until it is well- browned (not gray). You dump too much meat in the pot at the same time and you’ll overcrowd it; cool the thing down and you won’t get good color.

Sear the meat a little at a time, removing it and setting it aside as it finishes. When all the meat is a nice, dark brown color and has been set aside, add the onions to the pot. Lower the heat to medium-high until the onions are soft and golden brown (about 10 minutes). Sprinkle the flour over them. Continue to cook about 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally then, add the red wine. Naturally, you want to scrape up all that really good fond from the bottom of the pot with your wooden spoon. Bring the wine to a boil.

Stage 2
Return the meat to the pot and add the carrots, garlic and bouquet garni. Add just enough water (and 2 big spoons of demi glace, if you have it) so that the liquid covers the meat by one-third — meaning you want a ratio of 3 parts liquid to 2 parts meat. This is a stew, so you want plenty of liquid, even after it cooks down and reduces. Bring to a boil, reduce to a gentle simmer, and let it cook for about 2 hours, or until the meat is tender (break-apart-with-a-fork tender).

You should pay attention to the dish, meaning check it every 15 to 20 minutes, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot to make sure the meat is not sticking or, God forbid, scorching. You should also skim off any foam or scum or oil collecting on the surface, using a large spoon or ladle. When done, remove and discard the bouquet garni, add the chopped parsley to the pot and serve.

My opinion:  I think my introduction pretty much summarizes how I think about this recipe!  My family has asked me to make this again.  Even my youngest daughter who is not a meat eater has emphatically said “YES” to the encore cooking of this stew. 

Unless you plan really well you probably will not have bouquet garni, however, most of us do have various dried herbs in our pantry.  What I did was take a round tea strainer with a cover, stuffed it with garlic and various herbs (Herb de Provence, thyme, rosemary, and sage) and popped it in the stew. 

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