Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: French Dinner Party
The whole menu included baked brie as an appetizer, bouef bourginon served over buttered noodles, french bread, and asparagus with goat cheese as the main course, and chocolate mousse as dessert.
6 ounces bacon (*I just used 6 oz already sliced bacon)
1 Tbsp. olive oil or cooking oil
3 pounds lean stewing beef , cut into 2-inch cubes
1 sliced carrot
1 sliced onion
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 Tbsp. flour
3 cups full-bodied, young red wine , such as a Chianti (*I used Cabernet Sauvignon)
2 to 3 cups brown beef stock or canned beef bouillon
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 cloves mashed garlic
1/2 tsp. thyme
Crumbled bay leaf (*I didn't crumble the bay leaf, I've heard it's safer to leave it whole and remove it after cooking)
Blanched bacon rind (from bacon, above)
18 to 24 small white onions , brown-braised in stock (recipe follows)
1 pound quartered fresh mushrooms , sautéed in butter (recipe follows)
2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp oil
1/2 lb fresh mushrooms, washed, well dried, left whole if small, or quartered if large
18-24 peeled white onions, about 1 inch in diameter
1 1/2 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 Tbsp oil
1/2 cup brown stock, dry white wine, red wine, or water
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 herb bouquet: 4 parsley sprigs, 1/2 bay leaf, and 1/4 tsp thyme tied in cheesecloth
Remove rind from bacon, and cut bacon into lardons (sticks, 1/4 inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long). Simmer rind and bacon for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts of water. Drain and dry.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Sauté the bacon in the oil over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon. Set casserole aside. Reheat until fat is almost smoking before you sauté the beef.
Dry the stewing beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Sauté it, a few pieces at a time, in the hot oil and bacon fat until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the bacon.
In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the sautéing fat.
Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with the salt and pepper. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly with the flour. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat and return to oven for 4 minutes more. (This browns the flour and covers the meat with a light crust.) Remove casserole, and turn oven down to 325 degrees.
Stir in the wine, and enough stock or bouillon so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs, and bacon rind. Bring to simmer on top of the stove. Then cover the casserole and set in lower third of preheated oven. Regulate heat so liquid simmers very slowly for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.
While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms. Set them aside until needed.
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 bacon to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms over the meat.
Skim fat off the sauce. Simmer sauce for a minute or two, 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 of stock or canned bouillon. Taste carefully for seasoning. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables. Recipe may be completed in advance to this point.
For immediate serving: Cover the casserole and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times. Serve in its casserole, or arrange the stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes, noodles, or rice, and decorated with parsley.
For later serving: When cold, cover and refrigerate. About 15 to 20 minutes before serving, bring to the simmer, cover, and simmer very slowly for 10 minutes, occasionally basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce.
Sauteed Mushrooms: Place the skillet over high heat with the butter and oil. As soon as the butter foam has begun to subside, indicating it is hot enough, add the mushrooms. Toss and shake the pan for 4-5 minutes. During their saute, the mushrooms will first absorb the fat. In 2-3 minutes, the fat will reappear on their surface, and the mushrooms will begin to brown. As soon as they have browned lightly, remove from heat.
Sauteed mushrooms may be cooked in advance, set aside, and reheated when needed.
Brown Braised Onions: When the butter and oil are bubbling in the skillet, add the onions and saute over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling the onions about so that they will brown as evenly as possible. Be careful not to break their skins. You cannot expect them to brown uniformly.
Pour in the liquid, season to taste, and add the herb bouquet. Cover and simmer slowly for 40-50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but retain their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Remove the herb bouquet.
from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child