Sunday Suppers: Andy Cooks Beef Bourguignon
By Andy [Team Editor]
Beef stew gets a bad rap.
Either due to the basterdized canned version or a beloved family member doing unbeloved things to the dish, beef stew is a meal few people ever develop a true appreciation for. Maybe it’s because few of us (unless you have French grandmothers) have never had beef stew as it was truly meant to be, as beef bourguinon.
When done right, beef bourgiognon (pronounced Bur-Gan-Yown) is a delicious stew of beef and root vegetables braised in red wine broth until the meat is tender and the broth has developed into a mellow, mouth watering sauce that would beckon even the most finicky of picky eaters (my sister-in-law). Born out of necessity by French peasants, this dish was- and still is- a delicious way to stretch a meager food budget while providing a hearty, satisfying meal to a large family. Economy cuts of tough, stringy, essentially “black sheep” cuts of the cow are braised to glorious fork tender perfection over a long, fall afternoon.
With inspiration from Tony Bourdain’s No Reservations “Techniques” episode and a long, fall afternoon on the calendar, it was on like Donkey Kong.
Carrot (Large Dice)
Some Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
Bottle of Burgandy Wine
It starts with the meat. Unlike a nude beach, fatter is better. Generally look for a shoulder cut, like a chuck roast. There will be a nice layer of fat on the side as well as plenty of connective tissue and collagen that will break down while we stew.
Beyond the meat, the above is all you need for a great dish. Carrot, onion, olive oil, salt, pepper, and a burgandy red wine that doesn’t taste like feet. Burgandy gives the dish it’s name, but in a pinch, any red wine you can stomach will suffice. Taste is important for the wine, but you don’t have to break the bank for a high-end red. After hours of braising, even the snobiest of wine connoisseur would be hard pressed to taste the difference between a Château Margaux and something from Ray-Ray’s Boxed Wine Emporium. Save your good wine for passing the next three hours.
Next, dice up the meat into cubes and season liberally with salt and pepper. Don’t have to be exact with the cuts, just try to make them all about the same size.
Heat up a pan with olive oil, and begin to brown the meat. Brown in shifts so you don’t crowd the pan and you get a nice crust on the meat. Or even brown in two pots like I did.
After brownin’ yo’ meatz, saute up the onions in the same pot as your meat. Cook until the onions translucent and start to give up their raw texture.
After you sweat the onions, toss the meat and your carrots in the pot and bring on the vino! Make sure to scrape the hell out of the bottom of the pot so you loosen and incorporate all of the brown bits of flavorness that are lodged there. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and check back ever half hour or so to stir and scrape again.
Three hours later, this is the sexiest that should be appearing before you. With the great smells rising from your kitchen, feel free to open your windows and let the neighbors know how much better than them you are.
With the braising near done, we need to thick this stew up. Melt some butter in a sauce pan, add flour, and stir until the flour has gotten all up in the butter’s business and has taken on a slightly darker color.
Add roux and allow to thicken.
Now you can serve beef bourguignon dish by itself, accompanied with crusty bread, or pasta; but I like mashed potatoes… So that’s what Andy made.
There ya be. Ladel the beautiful beef dish over pillowy mounds of mashed potatoes (and some green for the picture) and you have dinner that will stick to your ribs and literally incapacitate you for the foreseeable future.
This is “beef stew” the way it should be done. Your move Dinty Moore.