Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Boeuf Bourguignon - A Photo Essay-ish

This is a post about........REAL FOOD!!!  Yes, real food does happen in Meow's kitchen.  Usually, what gets cooked in my kitchen is nothing to write home about, but I think this is neat and plus the fact that Mr. Meow made it (and it does not involve pastries...ehm, Portuguese tarts, ehm, so it's guaranteed to be edible) so my hands are free to take pictures.

Boeuf Bourguignon (berf boor-gweeg-nyon) or Beef Bourguignon or beef stew in red wine.  Similar to Coq au Vin (cock-o-veng) but done with beef.  Mr. Meow is gonna kill me with the pronunciation guide.  I can so hear him say "That's not really how you say it!"  Whatever, close enough for the internets.

Probably ever since watching Juila & Julia movie where the girl was making beef bourguignon in her oven nearly causing a fire has piqued the interest of Mr. Meow to obtain a cast iron pot and making it, since it IS the French dish to do.  We bought a cast iron pot (sorry, it's not a Le Crueset or Staub.  Not shelling out $300 for one) from our local Stupidstore.  We can certainly say that it's a huge WIN because it's was on sale for 20% off plus no taxes that weekend AND it's made in France.  Later, we started to recognize some signs or resemblance of the Stupidstore pot to a Staubb pot.  Mainly, it's the condensation dots under the lid and the French ribbon that was tied to the lid.

The Stupidstore cast iron pot

A Staub pot.  Note the similar condensation dots under the lid.

Note the style of the ribbon on an authentic Staubb

Note the similarities of Caboose's ribbon and the Staub ribbon.
The ribbon from the Stupidstore pot ended up on my cat, Caboose.
He thinks he's un chat Français now.
Caboose: "Je suis un chat Français-z.  J'aime toût des poissons.  Je veux beaucoup beaucoup de thôn"

So, we think it's made by Staub and that's the pot we used.  Since this is a French dish, Meow will leave all the work to the Frenchman, Mr. Meow.  We have a whole charade of ingredients for this.

Boeuf Bourguignon
(Beef Stewed in Red Wine with Vegetables)
adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child

For 4-6 people

6 oz hunk o'bacon with rind
3 lbs stewing beef preferably rump pot roast cut, cut into 2" cubes
2 carrots
1 large onion
1 lb mushrooms
2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, mashed
1/2 tsp thyme
1 bay leaf, crumpled
3 cups full-bodied, young red wine
2-3 cups of beef stock
Olive oil

Pre-game: Preheat oven to 450F

1. Remove the bacon rind, and cut the bacon into 1/4"x1 1/2".  Simmer rind and bacon in water for 10 minutes.

2. Drain and dry bacon

3. Prep your vegetables.  Slice carrots and onions, quarter the mushrooms.
   For intense mushroom flavour, leave mushrooms out at room temperature for about a day.

4. Saute the bacon in the oil over medium heat for 2-3 minutes to brown slightly.

5. Remove from pot and set aside in a dish for later.

6. Cut beef into 2" cubes.  Pat and dry the beef.
   It won't brown if it's damp and will spit and splatter all over you

7. Reheat pot with the bacon fat to almost smoking and saute the beef until brown. 

8. Remove from pot and set aside with the bacon.

9. Brown your veggies in the same fat.

10. Return the beef and bacon to the pot and toss with salt and pepper.

"Is that enough pepper?"
"I can still SEE the beef!"

11. Sprinkle in the flour to thicken the mixture.  Toss to coat evenly.

12. Set pot in oven at 450F for 4 minutes.  Take out, toss the mixture, return to oven for another 4 minutes.
   This browns the flour and covers the meat with a light crust.

13. Remove pot and turn oven down to 325F.

14. Stir in the wine, and enough stock to barely cover the ingredients.

15. Add tomato paste, garlic, herbs, and bacon rind.

16. Bring to simmer on the stove.

17. Cover the pot and set in lower third of your 325F oven.

18. Adjust the heat as necessary so that the liquids simmer very slowly for 2.5 to 3 hours in the oven.

19. When meat is tender (can fork it easily), it is done.

20. Add the braised shallots to the pot

21. You may wish to skim off about 2 1/2 cups of sauce and simmer to thicken perhaps with the addition of flours, to be served over the meat.

Oignons GlacéÀ Brun 
(Shallots Brown Braised in Stock)
from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child

18-24 shallots
1 1/2 tbsp butter
1 1/2 tbsp oil
1/2 red wine, white wine, beef stock, or water
salt & pepper
4 parsley sprigs
1/2 bay leaf
1/4 tsp thyme

1. Heat butter and oil in a skillet

2. Peel the shallots (DO NOT CUT), add to the skillet to brown.  About 10 minutes
   Becareful not to break the shallots skin.  You want to retain their bulbous shape in the end.

Thiiiiiiiiiis much shallots

3. Pour in the liquids.

4. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

5. Put herbs into a cheesecloth (or a teaball) and add to the skillet.

6. Cover and simmer slowly for 40-50 minutes until shallots are tender but not decimated and liquids have evaporated.

7. Remove herb teaball and stir shallots into the boeuf bourguignon.

Before shallots addtion
This stew is typically served with bread.  You can serve with boiled potatoes, rice and other starches too.  Since a French meal is not complete without French bread, Mr. Meow also made baguettes.  I have no idea how baguettes are made - you know me and doughs, I think they're magical.  And the fact that he got up at 6:30am to start making it.  But one interesting thing is that you can hear the crust crackling when they come out of the oven.

It sounds like a few packs of pop rocks cracking away.

Mr. Meow raving about is creation: "Good stew, good bread, good company.  This was a success."  I can't argue, but I find it funny that one would brag about their accomplishments in this manner.

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