I've told this story a hundred times about the first time I made "contact" with Beef Bourguignon, but I feel it needs repeating.
As a kid growing up, knowing that I wanted to be a chef some day and always fascinated with food and cooking, I stumbled across and old black and white TV program one Sunday afternoon on my local PBS station.
The intro music to the program was happy and light, even though the sound was noticeably old and grainy. Then this funny looking woman starts speaking. She seemed unsure of the camera, where she should stand, and had that "what am I doing?" look on her face. All things I know from personal experience.... to this day....still.
This woman's accent was strange, but she "off the bat" knew exactly what she was talking about and had great timing for her cooking steps, even when dealing with 1960's electric coil stoves. This woman was making a stew but called it something wonderfully French... Boeuf Bourguignon. She threw out french cooking terms such as blanch and fond, and a term she pronounced as "So-tay" that I still say to this day when sauteèing vegetables for my beef bourguignon.
This woman was Julia Child, and in July 1979 on a Sunday afternoon in Sapulpa, Oklahoma she introduced me to Boeuf Bourguignon on her television program The French Chef.
Ingredients: Serves 6
3- 3.5 pounds beef chuck, cut 2-inch chunks with excess fat trimmed
Kosher Salt & Freshly ground black pepper (Cook’s Line Seasoning)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup cognac
3 large carrots
1 large yellow onion, cut in chunks (8ths)
3 large garlic cloves, smashed
1 bottle (750 mL) full-bodied red wine
1 cup unsalted beef stock
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 large bay leaf (2 small)
4 ounces salt pork or bacon, diced
1 pound boiler onions, blanched shocked peeled
1 pound Cremini mushrooms, halved or quartered
1 Preheat oven to 325 F. Pat meat dry. Season all over with salt and pepper or Cook’s Line Seasoning.
2 Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter in large Dutch-Oven or oven proof pan with a lid over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add beef to pan in one layer. Brown on all sides. Transfer beef to a bowl.
3 Add cognac to the pan with a half cup of the wine and deglaze pan over medium-high heat, scraping up bits. Pour the cognac and wine “fond” over the beef.
4 Coarsely chop 2 carrots. Heat 1 tablespoons olive oil in the same pan and remaining butter. Add chopped carrots and onion. “So-Tay” approximately 5 minutes or until the onions and carrots start to caramelize lightly. Add the smashed garlic and cook more until the garlic is fragrant. Do not caramelize the garlic, Add the beef and cognac, the remaining wine, 1 cup of beef stock, tomato paste, and thyme. If after adding everything the beef and vegetables are still not covered with the liquids, top it off with more beef stock…. then Pour yourself a glass of wine.
5 Add the Bay leaf and bring the stew to a boil then remove from heat. Cover with the lid and place in oven. Cook 2 1/2 hours or until the beef is luscious and tender
6 About 30 minutes before beef is done, cut remaining carrot in medium thick “coins” at an angle. Prep the boiler onions and mushrooms and set aside.
7 Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in the skillet over medium heat and add the diced salt pork/bacon. Cooke the lardons until crispy reserving about 2 tablespoons of the fat in the pan. Remove and set the lardons aside and we will use them for garnish later. Sauté the mushrooms until light golden brown in the bacon fat. Remove the mushrooms from the pan. Begin sautéing the boiler onions and carrots a bit until softened and bright .
8 Remove beef from oven. Strain liquid and bay leaf from thestew into a large saucepan separating the beef from the cooked vegetables . Another way I prefer when making this at home is to puree the stewed vegetables with a hand blender or the entire contents in a food processor. Then add the puree back to the pot and bring it all back up to a simmer.
9 Add back the beef, the sautéed carrots, boiler onions, and mushrooms to the pot. Simmer an additional 15 minutes to heat through. Taste for seasoning and remember if your bacon or salt-porkwas really salty check the flavor first before adding any more salt. We’ll be sprinkling the crispy lardons over the top as garnish later. Taste before serving.
10. Serve your Beef Bourguignon, my favorite way (every Halloween), with mashed potatoes and the crispy lardons(bacon) sprinkled on top for garnish. Merci Julia, et Bon Appétit!