Posts Tagged ‘lard’

French Bistro – Central France – Part 2 – Beef Bourguignon

November 6, 2008

Now, on to our second course, the promised Beef Bourguignon. This is another one of my 2-day, slow-cooking techniques, as explained in my carnitas blog. I’ve been wanting to try this technique on Beef Bourguignon for some time. I’ve always made beef bourguignon the classic way, which involves cutting the beef into 2-inch cubes, tossing in flour, searing and then braising at about 325 degrees for 3-4 hours. Hey, it works. The beef is tender (if a bit dry) and everything is cooked. I don’t know…I was just hoping for something more. The last time I made my carnitas, I thought about Beef Bourguignon and wondered if it would work to use the same technique. Well, I tried it and well, stick me in a freezer and call me a popsicle….it worked…and it worked well. It worked so well, it was the best beef bourguignon I’ve ever made. It was TRANSCENDENT beef bourguignon. It wasn’t JUST tender….it was almost like confit. It just melts into the sauce and in your mouth. No hard, ‘dry yet somehow greasy’ nuggets of beef chuck that are tender but unsatisfying. The meat becomes the sauce and yet stays in ‘meat form’.

I still consulted one of my longtime favorite food bibles for the ingredients:

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The full recipe will be at the end of the blog, but you’ll need good bacon…preferably in slab form rather than pre-sliced…if you can find it. Or, you can use pancetta, salt pork, guanciale, thick cut Prosciutto, etc., etc. Extra fat of your choice, (I’m using lard….who woulda thunk it?), but you can use olive oil, butter, whatever….carrot, onion, garlic…thyme, bay leaf…tomato paste…a bottle of red wine (more if you’re drinking while cooking)…beef stock…and a beef chuck roast, about 3 – 4 pounds.

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No, I’m not using all of this…I just cut off a hunk to show you:

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Flavors:

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Liquids:

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Chuckie Chuck Roast….season liberally with salt and pepper:

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Pot o’choice….enameled cast iron, bitches! I like Le Creuset:

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The trick to this particular Le Creuset pot is that you put ice cubes in the indentation of the lid while cooking and then the resulting condensation on the inside drips down these little nubbins and back into your meat.

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But I never bother with the ice cubes. This is cooking soooo long that, believe me…it’s tender and juicy. So, add your bacon cut into lardons, as explained in my previous blogs, to your pot over medium high heat and start sautéing until the fat starts to come out and then turn down the heat to low and cook slowly for about an hour to render out the fat.

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Remove the lardons from the pan and leave the fat in there. Let them cool to the side on paper towels. I had to cover these with plastic so I wouldn’t eat them all:

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Add a little more fat to the pot (don’t worry…you’ll get rid of it again later), turn up the heat and brown the chuck roast on all sides. Take your time doing this. When I say brown, I mean dark brown, not black (bitter)…not grey. When I first started cooking, I used to think that browning the meat meant taking it from red to grey. No. I mean coffee brown on every bit of surface. It will take a while. Just have the pot on medium heat and leave it there and wander in every once in while and turn it over like we used to do at the beach in the 70’s and 80’s when we were slathered in baby oil and lying on a silver blanket.

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Brownie McBrownsalot:

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It’ll be raw as a snuff film in the middle but take it out of the pot and set aside:

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You should be left with fat and a brown substance in the pot that looks something like this. That, my friends, is what chefs like to call fond, or in layman’s terms: ‘crazy deliciousness’. That’s your flavor right there…DON’T wash that out.

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Remember the carrots, onions and garlic? Peel and chop roughly. They don’t have to be pretty. They won’t be in the final dish. Add the onions to the pot, season with salt to bring out the water and sauté over medium high heat for about 5 minutes. The water coming out of the onions will lift up all that ‘crazy deliciousness’ off the bottom of the pot.

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Add the carrots and garlic and continue cooking for about 5-10 more minutes.

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When it’s all looking nice and caramelized, add the thyme, bay leaf and tomato paste and keep stirring for another 5-10 minutes to bring out the flavors.

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Then, as suggested in my friend Robert’s excellent blog, pour yourself a glass of red wine and then pour the rest of the bottle into the pot with the onion/carrot/garlic mixture. Then, add the Chuckie Chuck Roast back into the pot and pour the beef stock in until the level of liquid comes ¾ of the way up the meat. You don’t want it to cover the meat because then it’s technically simmering the meat, not braising it. You want to braise it.

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Bring it all JUST to a boil and then immediately turn off the heat. Partially cover and then place the whole pot in a 200-degree oven and forget about it. Go open another bottle of wine and go watch your backed up TiVo’d programs. I put this in the oven at 200 degrees at about 8pm and took it out the next morning at 10am. It’s forgiving. I’ve kept it in longer than that but I wouldn’t go shorter than 12 hours. MAKE SURE THAT YOUR OVEN DOESN’T TURN OFF AUTOMATICALLY. A lot of modern ovens do just that after a certain period of time. ASK ADEL. She made the carnitas out of my blog…same technique…her oven turned off but she caught it in time, luckily.

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The next morning…take it out of the oven and remove the meat from the pot. Set the pot aside for now. The meat should pull apart with your fingers like so:

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Now, turn your attention back to that pot o’crazy deliciousness that you have sitting there on the stove. Pour the juices through a strainer into a heatproof container, cover and place in the fridge. You can add the solids back in later. Cover and refrigerate those too. The fat will rise to the top of the juices and you can just lift it off like a cap once it’s cold.

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Now that the meat is cool, break it up into chunks, discard any schmutz and refrigerate:

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Later in the day, an hour or two before you want to serve, chop up some more onion, carrot and garlic a bit more carefully for presentation purposes. (All the cooking school people and chefs are looking at this pic right now and saying: “THAT’S FOR PRESENTATION PURPOSES? Look at those big chunks of onion at the bottom of the pic”.) Yeah, well….good enough.

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Take the juices out of the fridge and lift that fat cap off and set aside. Put your pot back on the stove and heat to medium high. Break off a little chunk of the fat cap off…a few tablespoons worth and throw and the pot. Once melted, start sautéing the ‘pretty’ onions, carrots and garlic until softened. You can also add sautéed mushrooms and blanched pearl onions at this point, if you’re feeling energetic. I didn’t…mainly because I was too lazy to go to the store.

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Now, I generally discard the solids that I strained out earlier (bacon, onions, carrots, garlic). You can add them back in if you don’t want to waste them. They will have already given up their flavor and might be a bit soft but it won’t hurt anything. Just remove the bay leaf. I like to sauté some fresh so that you have a viable vegetable and bacon lardon to chew into. It’s not absolutely necessary but I like to. Anyway, add the meat and some new lardons (as I ate the rest of the last batch) to the ‘pretty’ onions, carrots and garlic (and mushrooms and pearl onions if you were feeling energetic).

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Add the defatted juices back in. (See, you got rid of most of that fat but kept all the flavor). Bring that all to a boil and then immediately turn the heat down to low. Boiling for any length of time will toughen and dry out the meat. You just want to heat it all up quickly for food safety.

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Awww…well, we did get rid of most of that fat….lets put some back in. 😉 The sauce is a bit runny. We’re going to thicken this up with a little buerre manié. Beurre Manié is basically equal parts softened butter and flour. You mix the softened butter into the flour to coat the starch particles so they don’t clump up and make lumps in your sauce. You drop this pasty substance into your sauce in pieces and whisk in until you get the consistency you want. Give it a chance to mix in and thicken. Don’t add too much at once. It takes 5 or 10 minutes to take effect. Once you have it to the desired consistency, you’re going to want to cook off the raw flour taste, so just keep cooking and stirring for at least a half and hour.

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Ok, now, it’s time to taste. I like to season as I go…you shouldn’t need much salt if you’ve been salting where I told you to. At this point, if I feel like there is something missing in the flavor, I have two ‘secret squirrel’ tricks. One is Tabasco. Just a few shakes will often be JUST enough acid to bring out the rest of the flavors. Acid brings out flavors, so instead of adding more salt, add acid…because you may realize very quickly that you have MORE than enough salt in there. Tabasco has a lot of vinegar so that will ‘bring it alive’ as one of my cooking school instructors, Chef Baumgart, used to say. If, after you’ve added the Tabasco and it’s STILL missing something, here’s my 2nd trick: Marmite. Marmite is basically concentrated Umami. It’s also VERY salty. Think of it as almost like soy sauce paste. It’s, well, an ‘acquired’ taste. I ADORE it spread on bread and butter but I was raised with it. Anyway, if I feel like a sauce or stew or something is missing what I think of as ‘depth’ but what the Japanese call Umami, I add just a bit of Marmite and that usually does the trick. This is not a necessary ingredient and don’t break your balls trying to find it if you’re out in the middle of the country but if you see it, try it sometime.

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So, all the flavors have had a chance to meld and it’s thickened to the consistency I wanted and I’ve cooked off the raw flour taste. Time to serve. I just cooked up some egg noodles and tossed them in butter and spooned the ‘crazy deliciousness’ over them. You can get ‘uber-energetic’ and make your own pasta if you so desire. It really doesn’t matter. This beef is so ridiculously good, I wouldn’t bother with fancy pasta. You just need a bland foil for the ‘crazy deliciousness’. At this point, you should be starving because your kitchen has smelled like heaven for the last two days, so….enjoy!

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Remember…save some room for dessert! We’re having Tart Tatin!

Boeuf Bourguignon

6 ounce (or more if you’re a snacker) chunk of bacon
3-4 pounds of Beef Chuck Roast
2 carrots (peeled and chopped) (1 for the first braise and 1 for the final dish)
2 onions (peeled and chopped) (ditto)
2 cloves of garlic (minced) (ditto)
3 Cups of red wine (Chianti, Burgundy, Syrah, Barolo if you want to make it Italian and call it Brasato al Barolo, in which case, I would use slightly different spices like allspice and rosemary)
3 Cups of beef stock
1 tsp of thyme
1 Bay leaf
salt
pepper
Tabasco
½ Cup of flour
½ Cup of butter for the beurre manié

OPTIONAL
18-24 pearl onions (peeled and sautéed in butter)
1 pound of quartered fresh mushrooms sautéed in butter.
Marmite

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