Monday, December 26, 2011

BEEF BURGUNDY, or BEEF STEW IN RED WINE, How I made it for the last party

Beef Burgundy is an old fashioned beef stew in red wine, and one of the first things I learned to cook.  It is an every-day kind of stew, but also and a great recipe to make for a party, as it can be made in advance and it gets better after a few days. It also freezes well. On party day, it can be warmed in a crock pot, or in the oven, leaving the stovetop free. Like any soup or stew, it can be different every time you make it, but it is always good.

Here’s how I made it for a lovely progressive dinner we had recently with our dear friends from the “original neighborhood”. Usually I will add the carrot whole, and remove it when I remove the bouquet garni (and eat it with lunch the next day), but sometimes I'm in the mood for carrots¸ so I diced the carrot and left it in. Sometimes I add garlic, too, but not this time (not in the mood for garlic). And adding a ham hock isn’t traditional, but ham hocks make just about anything better, so I like to add one if I have one around.
No pictures of the beef burgundy, but here we are with our salads!
There are recipes all over the place for beef burgundy, so it might seem silly to bother posting it here, but my friends requested it, so here’s the strategy, formula, and technique. The proportions are more or less, give or take. Multiply or divide as you wish

BEEF BURGUNDY, or BEEF STEW IN RED WINE, How I made it for the last party.
Serves @8 (I made twice as much for party of 13, with some left over)

4 or 6 T olive oil

Beef chuck roast, trimmed of fat and cut into ½ - 1” cubes, about 3 lbs
Flour for dredging

¼ lb pancetta or bacon (smoky not sweet variety), finely diced
1 large onion, chopped coarsely
1 small carrot finely diced

2 T Cognac
2 T tomato paste
1 - 2 quart beef broth (homemade is best)
½ bottle red wine, not sweet or light – think petit syrah, pinot noir, or Chianti
1 smoked ham hock

1 bay leaf,
3 sprigs thyme, (dried: 1 tsp)
2 sprigs marjoram, (dried: ½ tsp), all tied together into a bouquet garni with a kitchen string

pearl onions, 35 or 40, if fresh, blanched and peeled, or use frozen pearl onions
mushrooms, lots, at least 20 oz, sliced and sautéed in butter or olive oil until lightly browned

Heat 2-3 T olive oil on medium heat in a large heavy bottomed soup pot*. Turn heat to medium or low and add pancetta or bacon, for a minute or two, until edges start to brown. Add onions, cook for just a minute, and then add carrot and cook for another minute or so. Remove from pan.

Season beef with salt and pepper. Dredge lightly in flour.

Add another 2-3 T olive oil to pan and heat briefly. Add beef, and brown, a few pieces at a time so that they are not crowded and have space around them, on medium to low heat. Remove from pan and brown remaining beef in batches. Take your time and keep the heat pretty low. A dark brown crust will form on the bottom of the pot. This is good. Try not to scorch or burn it, though.

After all of the meat is browned and removed from the pan, keep the heat on low. Add Cognac and deglaze the pan, scraping up some of that brown crust on the bottom of the pan. Add tomato paste, stir it in, and then add about half of the beef broth a bit a time, stirring it in and scraping the bottom of the pot.

Return the beef and the carrot, onion, and pancetta/bacon mixture to the pot. Add wine, ham hock, and herbs. Turn heat to very low, and cook, uncovered, for several hours, at least two. I usually cook it on the top of the stove, but you can cook it in the oven at 300, or transfer it to a crock pot. Stir it every once in a while, and add more beef broth or water if it seems to need it.

After about two hours add onions and mushrooms, and cook for at least another hour until the flavors come together and it thickens slightly.

You can serve it right away, but it will be better if you cool and refrigerate it, and reheat it in a day or two.

Before serving remove ham hock and bouquet garni (or bay leaf if using dried herbs). Salt and pepper lightly, to taste.
Serve with egg noodles, rice or potatoes. If you’re on a diet or watching the glycemic index, beef burgundy is just fine on its own, without any starch.

*If you use a thin pot, you’ll have trouble with burning. If you don’t have a heavy bottomed pan, brown the onions, bacon, and carrot, remove from frying pan. Then brown the beef, as described above, in a heavy bottomed frying pan. Deglaze the pan, stir and scrape up browned bits, add a cup or two of beef broth, cook for a minute or two, and then pour it all into a deep soup pot or crock pot, and proceed with recipe.

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