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Beef Burgundy (Boeuf Bourguignon)

Beef Burgundy (Boeuf Bourguignon)
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Beef Burgundy (Boeuf Bourguignon)

It's been years since I've had Beef Burgundy (otherwise known as Boeuf Bourguignon--a Julia Child specialty). As I was preparing all the components to make this in my slow cooker, I realized I didn't have 8 hours to simmer this. Plus, I do NOT like adding raw meat in a slow cooker, because I know that the best flavor is built by taking the time to sear the meat. All that brown "stuff" at the bottom of the pot is loaded with flavor. Typically, you need to allow 2-3 hours to to simmer in the oven. Then it hit me. Use my pressure cooker! I won't lie-- the prep time for this is about an hour, because you need to build the tasty components-- cook the bacon, brown the small onions until golden and glazed, brown the mushrooms until golden and brown the meat. From there, it was easy, because this French stew was ready in 40 minutes! The meat was butter tender, and the Burgundy wine rich sauce was delicious. I served this over homemade egg noodles, but boiled potatoes are most traditional. Don't have a pressure cooker? You are so missing out on of the most feared kitchen tools, that doesn't have to be. I will show you how I made this step-by-step on my blog. You can certainly adapt to cooking this in the slow cooker for a few hours, or in the oven. No matter how you prepare it, be prepared for a delicious French stew that is perfect for entertaining-- and it tastes better the next day.

Ingredients

2 pounds chuck eye roast, cut into 2-inch pieces (ask your butcher about it, it's much more tender than stew cut meat)
1 bag frozen pearl onions (you can go with fresh, but it's a hassle to peel those babies!)
2 medium carrots, washed and finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
4 strips quality bacon (it's easier to cut while frozen)
1-½ cups Burgundy wine (or any red wine)
1 cup Beef broth (I don't recommend bouillon cubes, as they can be salty)
1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tbsp (heaping) tomato paste
1 pound fresh white mushrooms, quartered
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon olive oil
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme (or 2-3 tsp dried thyme..fresh is best)
2 sprigs fresh marjoram
1 Bay leaf
flour, salt & pepper (for seasoning the meat)
olive oil
Fresh parsley (for garnish) about ½ cup, finely chopped

Directions

Slice the bacon into lardons (thin strips) and cook in a heavy bottomed skillet unti crispy, on medium heat, to render the fat. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set on a paper towel. There is no need to thaw the frozen onions; simply empty the bag into a mesh strainer and rinse with lukewarm water for a few minutes. Allow to drain and pat them dry. You can certainly buy fresh pearl onions, but to remove the skins you will need to blanch and shock them in ice water to slip them off. I find that frozen is just as good! On medium heat, add the onion and cook in the bacon fat (this is building flavor), shaking the pan until they are translucent and lightly golden brown (about five minutes). Add the minced garlic and stir until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Remove the onion/garlic mixture into a bowl and set aside. Be sure to wipe any remaining garlic residue from the skillet (garlic burns and becomes bitter) and add a little drizzle of olive oil. On medium heat, cook the chopped carrot for 2-3 minutes, just until softened. Remove and set aside. For the meat: Be sure that the meat is completely dry. Otherwise, you won't be able to get a crusty, brown sear, and this is essential to building flavor! I place the cut-up meat in a large bowl, and add about 2-3 teaspoons of coarse salt, 1-2 teaspoons of freshly ground pepper and about 1 Tablespoon of flour. Toss the meat until it is evenly coated with flour and seasoning. Turn the heavy skillet to medium high and add enough olive oil to lightly coat the bottom. Add the meat, being careful not to crowd it, and allow it to sear until golden brown (3-4 minutes). Lift one piece of meat, and if it doesn't stick to the pan, it's ready for all the pieces to be turned over. Sear on both sides and set aside. You will, most likely, need to do this in 2-3 batches. Add a little more olive oil, as is necessary to coat the pan. Your skillet should be coated with a build-up for brown (maybe almost black) "crud". This is a good thing. Let's build the braising liquid! Leaving the skillet on medium-high heat, add the tomato paste and quickly stir it around to cook-- about 30 seconds. Add the red wine, whisk and stirring and loosening up the crust from the bottom. Add the carrots and the bacon to the skillet. Allow this mixture to reduce about to about 2/3, stirring it often-- about 5 minutes. Add the beef broth, and Worcestershire sauce. Your can now cook this French stew in a pressure cooker, in a Dutch oven or a slow cooker. The technique is all the same, but the cooking time is very different. For the pressure cooker: Add the meat, then pour the braising liquid on top. Tie the fresh herbs with kitchen string and settle into the liquid. Pressure cook on high for 40 minutes. For a Dutch oven, set in the oven at 275F for 2-1/2 to 3 hours. For a slow cooker, cook on low for 6-8 hours. (see why pressure cooking is so easy?) Meanwhile prepare the mushrooms: Clean the same skillet, and on medium heat, melt the butter and oil until bubbling. Add the cleaned and dry mushrooms and saute the mushrooms for about 5 minutes-- shaking the skillet intermittently until the mushrooms are lightly golden (about 7 minutes total). Remove from the skillet and set aside. Once the stew has finished cooking, it's time to add the onion and mushrooms. Release the pressure (if using a pressure cooker, obviously). Remove the herb bundle and bay leaf, then add the onions and mushrooms. Pressure cook for 5 minutes. If using a Dutch oven, allow to cook for about 10 minutes more. For a slow cooker, allow 15-20 minutes, depending on how hot the stew is. NOTE: If the sauce seems to thin for your liking (I like mine a bit thick) make a cornstarch slurry. I use about 2 Tablespoons cornstarch and whisk about 1/2 cup water until it is lump-free. Add in small amounts and wait a minute or so, until the sauce has thickened. Don't add the slurry all at once, or you might end up with concrete! If you do, thin with beef broth. Add a generous handful of fresh parsley and serve immediately. Traditionally, this dish is served with steamed potatoes. You can serve it with mashed potatoes or buttered noodles. I chose to make homemade egg noodles. This dish tastes even better the following day.

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