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Boeuf Bourguignon

Julia Child's delicious signature dish.

Boeuf Bourguignon

Ingredients

5 ounces salt pork, in 1 chunk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, such as canola, plus more if needed
One 3 1/2 to 4 pound boneless beef chuck roast or top blade
Salt and freshly ground pepper

For the herb and vegetable bouquet:
1 1/2 cups chopped onion, in 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups peeled and chopped carrot, in 1/2-inch pieces
6 sprigs fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried
3 imported bay leaves
A handful parsley stems (about 10)
1 head garlic, cloves separated and crushed but not peeled

For the cooking liquid:
1 large tomato, cored and chopped, or 3/4 cup canned Italian plum tomatoes, drained
1 bottle sturdy red wine, preferably pinot noir
1 to 2 cups strong dark stock

For the onion and mushroom garnish:
18 small white onions, about 1 1/4 inch diameter, about 10 ounces
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Pinch salt
1/2 cup or more of the dark stock
10 ounces fresh mushrooms, about 1 inch in diameter

For finishing the sauce:
2 tablespoons soft butter or more as needed
2 tablespoons flour, or more
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup or more red wine (same as you are serving at table)

For serving:
Fresh parsley finely chopped (1/4 cup or so)
  "Lion's Tooth" Croutons (optional), recipe follows

Cooking Instructions

Special equipment
A frying pan, 12 inches top diameter, for browning the meat; a large square of washed cheesecloth (about 18 inches) and kitchen twine; a heavy-duty oven-proof casserole, 4- or 5- quart capacity, with a tight fitting cover; a wide, heavy-bottomed saucepan or sauté pan (about 10 inches) with a tight-fitting cover, for glazing the onions and mushrooms.

Trimming and browning the meat
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F if you plan to stew the beef right away.

To make lardons, cut the salt pork into rectangular slices about 1/2 inch wide, then cut the slices into strips 1 inch long. Simmer them in a saucepan with a quart or so of water for about 10 minutes to remove the salt. Drain, rinse in cold water, and pat dry.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in the large frying pan over moderate heat and sauté the blanched lardons for about 5 minutes, stirring them around the pan as they render their fat, until lightly browned on all sides. Remove the lardons to the casserole with a slotted spoon, leaving all the fat in the frying pan. There should be enough to film the bottom; add more oil if necessary.

Meanwhile, trim the beef of all fat and gristle and cut into 2 1/2 to 3 inch chunks (you should have about 18 to 20 pieces). If you have a chuck roast, slice the meat apart following the natural seams of the muscles, trim away fat, and cut into chunks. If using the top blade, trim the fat and silver skin before cutting into chunks.

Dry the beef chunks on paper towels and sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon or more of freshly ground pepper all over them. Heat the frying pan until the fat is very hot but not smoking, and set in a batch of chunks in a single layer, with a little space between them - if overcrowded they will steam rather than sear. Brown the pieces, turning them with tongs, until well crusted on all sides, about 5 minutes. Remove them as they are done to the casserole and add more chunks to the pan for browning. Adjust the heat to keep the fat hot, adding more oil as needed.

When the beef has all browned, drain and discard the fat. Pour a cup or so of the wine into the pan and bring to a simmer. Deglaze the browned bits in the pan bottom, scraping them up with a wooden spoon, then pour this liquid over the beef and lardons.

Preparing the herb and vegetable bouquet and stewing the meat.
Pile the chopped onion and carrot, thyme sprigs, bay leaves, parsley stems and garlic cloves in the middle of the cheesecloth. Fold up the corners of the cloth, enclosing the aromatics, and tie securely with kitchen twine to make a compact bundle. Push aside some of the beef chunks and nestle the bouquet in the middle of the casserole. Scatter the tomato pieces on top of the meat and pour in the remaining wine and enough stock (a cup or two) just to cover the meat chunks.

Bring the liquid to a simmer on the top of the stove, cover, and set into the preheated oven. Cook for about 2 hours, keeping the stew at a barely active simmer, until the beef is fork-tender but not falling apart. To be safe, test the meat every 15 minutes after 1 1/2 hours of stewing - don't overcook.

When the meat is done, set the casserole on the stovetop. Remove the cheesecloth bouquet to a colander or strainer over a bowl and press out its juices. Pour the juices back into the stew and discard the bouquet. Proceed with the recipe immediately, or set the stew aside.

Preparing the onion and mushroom garnish
Blanch and peel the onions. Pierce a shallow cross in the root end of each to help prevent bursting. Trim and clean the mushrooms and cut them in halves or quarter if larger than 1 inch across.

Place the onions in one layer in a saucepan with the butter, the sugar, a pinch of salt, and 1/2 cup or more of stock or water, to come about one-third of the way up their sides. Bring to the boil, cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid, and cook for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until they are barely tender. Uncover and continue cooking until all the liquid evaporates and shake the pan so the onions are glazed all over in the butter and sugar.

Turn the mushrooms into the pan, fold and toss with the onions, and cook them together over moderate heat as the mushrooms release their liquid and begin to brown. When all the vegetables are glazed and colored, set aside. Deglaze the saucepan with a few spoonfuls of wine or stock and pour that into the stew.

Finishing the sauce
Return the stew to a gentle simmer for 10 minutes, then remove from heat. With a whisk, blend the 2 tablespoons of flour and 2 tablespoons of butter in a small bowl to make a thick paste, or beurre manie. Gradually whisk 1/2 cup or so of the stewing liquid into the paste to liquefy it. Blend this into the stew and bring it again to the simmer. Cook for a couple of minutes and check the sauce consistency. If you want it thicker, mix up more beurre manie and add it in the same manner, a tablespoon or so at a time.

Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings.

Serving the stew
When ready to serve, reheat the stew (if necessary), add the onions and mushrooms, stir in 1/4 cup or so of red wine, and heat through. Taste and correct seasonings.

Serve the stew in large individual pasta bowls, with noodles or potatoes as suggested above. Top the beef chunks (about 3 per serving) with a portion of the onions and mushrooms, plenty of sauce, and a sprinkle of chopped parsley. On each serving, you may wish to arrange a couple of the following pointed croutons.

"Lion's Tooth" Croutons for Bouef Bourguignon
These crispy, parsley-dipped croutons are a colorful garnish for any stew.

6 slices home-style white bread

3 tablespoons room-temperature unsalted butter

4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F

Slice each piece of bread on the diagonal into 2 triangular pieces. To shape each crouton, slice off the crust on one side of the triangle, then make a parallel slice, removing a corner of the bread. Trim the remaining crust with three small cuts to make a wedge.

Spread the butter with your fingers in the center of a cookie sheet. Press each wedge into the butter and rub gently to coat on one side, then turn it over, buttered side up. Arrange all the wedges on the buttered area of the sheet and place in the oven. Toast the croutons for 8 to 10 minutes, until nicely colored and crisp.

To serve, pile the fresh parsley in a small mound. Dip the point of the toasted wedge into the beef-stew sauce, then press the moistened end into the parsley to coat. Arrange 2 croutons on every serving plate or bowl of stew.

Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home published by Knopf A La Carte Communications

CHEFS Catalog is a proud sponsor of the 10th Anniversary re-release of the "Julia & Jacques Cooking at Home" TV series airing on public television stations nationwide.

Equipment List

Fry Pan
Saute Pans
Casserole
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