Brian's Beef Bourguignon
This is my take on Beef Bourguignon, which I prepare like a rustic stew and served here with pan fried potatoes. It's not traditional and not Keto or Paleo or Whole 30 and while the alcohol cooks off in the process there is a lot of sugar remaining from the carrots, wine and Cognac, so basically none of this is “health food” but OMG….
I first tried this dish in Culver City, CA at a casual French spot called La Dijionaise, at the invitation of my brother-in-law Rick, who flew in from Ohio. He picked the place specifically because it featured this dish on their menu.
This French standard is typically served with mashed potatoes but my family is currently obsessed with pan fried potatoes so I swapped those out. A typical preparation would have included a few of the ingredients like the mushrooms sauteed in butter and flour, so the flavors in my stew are a bit different, but I've been cooking sans dairy and flour in general and I don't miss them. Purists can find dozens of other recipes that include those steps.
Also, pearl onions, a traditional ingredient, are fucking gross, so pass. I replaced them with shallots, but wish I had cut them differently because they became limp wormy strings eventually and were a tad unappetizing. Next time, I'd do a rough dice instead of slices so they'll maintain a bit of texture.
By far, the biggest impact on the taste is the choice of red wine. I have learned to resist the instinct to grab the cheapest stuff or the “cooking” wine from the vinegar aisle because if you don't like to drink it, why would you assume it's gonna improve the flavor the food? Burgundy is a standard choice, but any dry red will do. I used a $10 French Bordeaux blend, Rue de Perle. Good drinking for the price (I adore value wine) and it added a lot of deep flavors to the stew. An 80 proof cognac, I happened to have Hennessy, contributes a sweet dimension and a bad ass flambé (which doesn't really add anything flavor-wise, but is fun and impresses the kids, so...flambé away.)
Brian's Beef Bourguignon
Rustic Stew of Beef Braised in Red Wine
Prep Time 45 Minutes
Cook Time 3 Hours
Ideally 24 hours in advance.
Cast Iron Dutch Oven or any large vessel with a lid that can go stovetop to oven.
3 slices of Bacon
3 lbs Chuck Eye Steak
2 Tbsp 80 proof Cognac
½ lbs Carrots
1 large Onion
6 cloves Garlic
1 ½ cup Beef Broth (plus a tad more)
1 cup Dry Red Wine
4 Bay Leaves
Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit
Chop carrots, dice onion, slice mushrooms, dice shallots, mince garlic and parsley, sip wine, chop bacon. Cut the chuck beef into 1” cubes. Separate out the large chunks of pure fat. Do not trim out all the fat; make sure that cubes with plenty of marbled fat remain. Using a 12”×12” single layer of cheesecloth, make a sachet containing the bay leaves, thyme sprig, and beef fat.
Preheat your dutch oven on high; the bacon should sizzle as soon as it hits the pot. Fry the chopped bacon and remove it once the pieces start to get crispy, leaving the grease; set it aside for later. Brown the cubed beef in the bacon grease (fancy cooks call this “larding”), adding salt generously, and pepper, stirring constantly to brown all sides. Pour in a splash of Cognac and be prepared to set it alight immediately with a utility lighter, (watch your eyebrows). Remove the beef once all sides are browned, leaving behind the grease and set it aside. Sip more wine.
Briefly sautee the carrots, garlic, and onions in the bacon grease with more salt then add the beef broth, wine, and the herb sachet to the Dutch Oven to create the braise. Return the browned beef to the braise and cover. Move the pot to the oven for 3 hours. Finish the wine. Be sure to set the lid askew to allow for evaporation, which will reduce the braise to a rich gravy with the sugars from the carrots, onions, and booze. Stir every hour to ensure the tops of the beef cubes don't dry out and add the mushrooms and shallots for the last hour.
When the beef is tender, remove and discard the herb sachet and stir in the parsley and cooked bacon. If the gravy has reduced too much, add extra broth to bring it to the desired consistency. (But not more red wine as the flavor of uncooked wine is very different from wine that's been in the braise for 3 hours...you should be out of wine at this point anyways) Salt to taste. It's ready to eat right out of the oven but amazing the next day; reheat slowly on the stove over medium heat.
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