Make It: Fall-ing Into Julia’s Boeuf Bourguinon

San Francisco is celebrating what the is normal October with shorter, warm days and cold, brisk nights. On nights like these, nothing warms my bones more than old country, rustic French beef stew, as dictated by the Queen of the Kitchen herself, Ms. Julia Child herself.

Some basics before you attempt this classic recipe, re-envisioned for the modern chef:

Julia, the Master

Julia, the Master

  • You absolutely need a nice, heavy dutch oven/casserole type of pot to do this type of slow roasting cooking in. Using cheaper pots won’t conduct heat the same way and the long period of 3-5 hours in the oven could potentially ruin your cookware. Check out the major brands like Le Creuset (because the French do it best when it comes to slow cooking, let’s be honest.)
  • Your heavy dutch oven will be getting very, very hot during this process. Make sure you have some heavy duty oven mitts so you don’t break it when you drop it from sheer shock from taking it out of the oven.
  • Never cooked in a dutch oven before? You might need to look into seasoning it beforehand, especially if it is just straight up cast iron with no enamel coating.

Ingredients:

  • One 6-ounce piece of chunk bacon (or half a pack of regular thick cut, grocery store bacon. I prefer pre-smoked in this application, it added additional depth of flavor.)
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil (plus extra, to add if your veggies and meat dry out too much.)
  • 3 pounds lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1 large carrot, sliced (or I used four small seasonal rainbow carrots here.)
  • 1 white onion, diced (an important part of the mirepoix triumvirate.)
  • 2 stalks celery, diced (adds flavor and soaks up some of that broth.)
  • Salt and pepper (I prefer kosher sea salt, it tastes better than iodized here.)
  • 2 tablespoons flour (this is an estimation.)
  • 3 cups red wine, young and full-bodied (like Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone or Burgundy) ((I used the whole bottle of Cabernet because why not? It for sure did not hurt anything!))
  • 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups brown beef stock (about one box)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste (again, I used the whole mini can, just to save waste.)
  • 2 cloves mashed garlic (I added about two heads of garlic here. This is really up to personal preference. You need a lot of garlic to stand up to the wine.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • A crumbled bay leaf
  • 18 to 24 white onions, small (about one bag that you can get in the veggie section)
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • Herb bouquet (4 parsley sprigs, one-half bay leaf, one-quarter teaspoon thyme, tied in cheesecloth)
  • 1 pound mushrooms, fresh and quartered (Don’t miss this part! Buttery, stock mushrooms are the best.)

Let’s get cooking:BoeufBourguignon_5

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Sauté bacon lardons in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in your dutch oven over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish that has a paper towel draped draped over it with a slotted spoon; it’ll soak up some extra grease.

Dry beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. (One of Julia’s most famous tips. Check out her explanation of it here at 3:15.)

Heat fat in casserole until almost smoking. Add beef, a few pieces at a time, and sauté until nicely browned on all sides. Take it off the head, and put it off to the side and add it to the lardons.BoeufBourguignon_10

In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables.

Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes.

Toss the meat again and return to oven for 4 minutes (this browns the flour and covers the meat with a light crust).

Remove casserole and turn oven down to 325 degrees. (This is where your oven mitt comes in handy!)

Stir in wine and 2 to 3 cups stock, just enough so that the meat is barely covered.

Add the tomato paste, garlic, and herbs. Bring to a simmer on top of the stove.BoeufBourguignon_15

Cover casserole and set in lower third of oven. Regulate heat so that liquid simmers very slowly for 3 to 4 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.

While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms.

Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons butter with one and one-half tablespoons of the oil until bubbling in a skillet.

Add onions and sauté over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling them so they will brown as evenly as possible. Be careful not to break their skins. You cannot expect them to brown uniformly. (Don’t crowd the mushrooms! Use a pan that has a big enough surface area that can brown without overlapping.)

Add 1/2 cup of the stock, salt and pepper to taste and the herb bouquet.

Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but hold their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Remove herb bouquet and set onions aside.BoeufBourguignon_26

Wipe out skillet and heat remaining oil and butter over high heat. As soon as you see butter has begun to subside, indicating it is hot enough, add mushrooms.

Toss and shake pan for 4 to 5 minutes. As soon as they have begun to brown lightly, remove from heat.

When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan.

Wash out the casserole and return the beef and lardons to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms on top.

BoeufBourguignon_27Skim fat off sauce in saucepan. Simmer sauce for a minute or 2, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly.

If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons stock. Taste carefully for seasoning.

Pour sauce over meat and vegetables. Cover and simmer 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times.

Serve in casserole, or arrange stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes, noodles or rice, and decorated with parsley. (I served it next to these super convenient garlic and herb baby potatoes with lots of those yummy mushrooms and onions. Some wheat beer goes great to offset the heavy meat here, too!)BoeufBourguignon_29

BON APPÉTIT!

Lisa

 

Make It: “Kicking that Cold fast” Chicken and Dumplings

It’s fall. The leaves are changing, the thunderstorms are starting, and my nose is running.

Time for some good, stick-to-your-ribs Chicken and Dumplings soup.

To give you some background, I wasn’t raised eating this fantastic soup. I was raised on Chicken Noodle, sometimes homemade but mainly from a packet or can. So when I got in my mind that I wanted to make Chicken and Dumplings from scratch, I wanted to do it right.

One of my favorite food bloggers, Bree Drummond aka The Pioneer Woman, came out with her adapted version of a Gourmet Magazine recipe. I further adapted it to suit me, which just shows you the chain of bastardization and recipes on the internetz. Oh, the internetz.

“Kicking that Cold fast” Chicken and Dumplings:

  • 1 stick of salted Butter
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup All-purpose Flour
  • 1 whole Chicken, Cut Into Pieces OR 5 Chicken Leg Quarters (Precut, in a pack)
  • Salt And Pepper
  • 1/2 cup Finely Diced Carrots
  • 1/2 cup Finely Diced Celery
  • 1 whole Medium Onion, Finely Diced (I prefer red onions, adds sweetness.)
  • 1 lb super small fingerling red potatoes (any color of fingerling will do)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground Thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon Turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon of dried Tarragon
  • 6 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth (or I used 2 32oz. boxes)
  • 1/2 cup Apple Cider (uncarbonated, in the plastic bottle)
  • 1/2 cup Heavy Cream (weird but YUM)

Dumplings:

  • 1-1/2 cup All-purpose Flour (you can add more if you think your mix is too wet)
  • 1/2 cup Yellow Cornmeal
  • 1 Tablespoon (heaping) Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1-1/2 cup Half-and-half
  • 2 Tablespoons Minced Fresh Parsley (optional)
  •  Salt As Needed

NOTE: To achieve the best flavor, let the broth simmer continuously AND remember to add just a little bit more salt every step of the way. Seasonings are your friend when it comes to working with large amounts of liquids in broths or soups, especially if you opted for the low/reduced sodium chicken broth as your base.

Prep:

Sprinkle chicken pieces with salt and pepper, then dredge both sides in flour.

Melt butter in a pot over medium-high heat. In two or three batches, brown chicken on both sides and remove to a clean plate. (All depends on the size of your pot and how large your chicken pieces are.)

NOTE: I used a heavy duty dutch oven pot, which sealed the heat in and gave me a great non-stick surface to cultivate the chicken flavor. I highly recommend using a pot you’re comfortable with, because you can’t change in the middle of the process.

In the same pot, add diced onion, carrots, and celery (In case you were wondering, this infamous flavor trio is called mirepoix.) Stir and cook for 3 to 4 minutes over medium-low heat. Stir in ground thyme, turmeric, and tarragon, then pour in chicken broth and apple cider. Stir to combine, then add browned chicken. Cover pot and simmer for 20 minutes.

While chicken is simmering, make the dough for the dumplings: sift together all dry ingredients, then add half-and-half, stirring gently to combine. Set aside. (Here is where you use your best judgement if you need to add more flour OR more liquids. For best density, use new AP flour.)

Remove chicken from pot and set aside on a plate. Use two forks to remove chicken from the bone. Shred, then add chicken to the pot. Pour heavy cream into the pot and stir to combine. (Add your quartered small fingerling potatoes here. The simmering will cook them rather quickly without absorbing too much broth.)

Drop tablespoons of dumpling dough into the simmering pot. Add minced parsley if using. Cover pot halfway and continue to simmer for 15 minutes. Check seasonings; add salt if needed. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.

The soup is amazing, definitely what I needed. (I had two full servings, with a total of four huge dumplings.)

Hope you enjoy it too.

Thank and happy eats,

Lisa