Saturday, January 29, 2011

Boeuf Bourguignon

After watching Julie & Julia we were extremely inspired to try making Julia Child's signature Boeuf Bourguignon! Bouef Bourguignon is french for Beef Burgundy - referring to the burgundy (or later, came to be any full bodied red wine) used in the beef stew. We used (and slightly modified) her original recipe.

Boeuf Bourguignon for 4

- Hunka stewing beef : 800g, cubed
- Red wine : enough for marinating
- Red wine : 2 cups
- Beef stock : 2 cups
- Bacon strips : 300g, squared
- Carrot : 1, diced
- Onion : 1, diced
- Pearl onions : 20
- White button mushrooms : enough
- Bay leaf : 2
- Flour : 2 tbsp
- Butter : 3 tbsp
- S&P

On the night before, we cubed the hunka beef.

Then we marinated the load of beef in red wine, a crushed bay leaf and fresh ground black pepper. I also added in a sprinkle of garlic salt for good measure. Use enough wine to cover the beef about halfway up the bowl. Give it a good mix and toss before covering the bowl and leaving it overnight in the fridge.

On the next day, the cubed beef is now an awesome dark red. I must warn you to resist popping a piece on the frying pan and eating it right there and then - it SMELLS REALLY GOOD.

The dogs were waiting (but they didn't get any in the end, aww).

On prep day of Operation BB. Bacon strips were cut into smaller squares, and then blanched in simmering water for about 3-4 minutes.

This is really important - the beef has to be dry in order to properly brown as you pan fry it in a little while. So we armed ourselves with paper towels and patted them dry. This process was painful especially due to the marinate - we must have ran through half a roll to dry all 800g of beef!

One of the best things in the world - pan frying the bacon squares in olive oil. Look at the glistening oil and charred bits of pig. So awesome. The fried bacon goes into the pot.

And one of the second best things in the world - we then pan fried the patted-dry beef cubes in the bacon fat. Work through the beef in batches, make sure they don't fry too close to each other. Fried beef cubes go into the pot.

Finally, with the remaining bacon fat and beef juice, we pan fried the diced carrot and onion. Veges go into the pot. We then deglazed whatever fat was left in the pan with red wine and poured the liquid into the pot.

Top up the pot with the rest of red wine so the total was about 2 cups. Then fill in enough beef stock to cover the beef until just a little beef sticks out. We used about 2 cups of beef stock, made from beef stock cubes and hot water.

There are alotta ways to cook boeuf bourguignon - Julia's original recipe called for 3 hours in a Dutch Oven, and you can also cook in a stove top pot. We used a slow cooker instead - and instead of 3 hours we left it for about 3 hours on high, then about 4 hours on low.

After the painful wait for 7 hours, we proceeded to cook the pearl onions and mushrooms. Peel the pearl onions by soaking them in hot water for a bit - the skin then comes off easily. Pan fry the onions in a dash of olive oil.

Mushrooms were fried.

What followed was a traditional french trick. We scooped out the cooked meats and vegetables from the slow cooker, which by now has transcended into the realms of awesome deliciousness.

There's still quite a bit of sauce left over, but it's still a little watery. We thicken the sauce by using a beurre manie - or butter and flour. Melt the 3 tbsps of butter a little, then mix in 2 tbsps of plain flour. You will get a goopy dough like substance. Now mix this dough bit by bit into the sauce, stirring firmly each time until it's homogenous. This magical step thickens the sauce amazingly, turning the watery wine and beef stock into a creamy sauce.

After thickening the sauce, pour back the onions, mushrooms, and the meats and veges and cook for another 5-10 minutes.

To go with the boeuf bourguignon, we decided to be as french as possible and toasted some Batard.

The final product - bouef bourguignon! It was a lot of work, and it took a whole day of cooking (and putting up with the sweet waft of red wine through the house) to get there, but boy was it worth it.

The beef, bacon, carrots and mushrooms were all ultra tender and filled with awesome flavour. The thick creamy wine sauce was full and flavourly, and went so perfectly with the toasted crusty bread. The only issue we had were the pearl onions - these expensive gems were too hard! We should have boiled them for about half an hour before pan frying them, turns out they were too crunchy and didn't soak up the sauce as much as it should have.

It was an awesome experience to cook french style! We'll definitely be doing more french cooking soon :)

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