Monday, March 2, 2009

Where's the Beef?



It's pretty well known to the people in my life that I'm not only an avid "meatetarian" but that I'm also a big fan of France and all that the French have given us, both in the culinary world and elsewhere. With this knowledge in mind, it's not surprising that Beef Bourguignon rocks my world. Take a basic beef stew, with its tender meat and delicious vegetables, raise it ten notches, and you will have this kicked up French version. It's surprisingly simple considering it stews for several hours. I made it last night and got rave reviews all night! My grandma, who loves beef and pasta but doesn't eat either very often because of her dentures and her diabetes, said it was the best meal she's ever had! My family doesn't like bacon (which is traditionally part of the dish) so I omitted that, but you can easily dice up about 6 oz of bacon, fry it up, and set it aside to add to the stew later with the rest of the browned meat. Bon appetit!

Beef Bourguignon with Buttered and Herbed Noodles
Serves 6 to 8

3 1/2 lbs lean stewing beef (chuck or shin)
6 T unsalted butter, at room temperature, separated
4 T olive oil, separated
3/4 lb frozen pearl onions
3/4 lb mushrooms, sliced or halved depending on their size and your preference
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
6 T flour, separated
3 cups red wine, preferably Burgundy
1 1/2 T tomato paste
2 1/2-3 cups beef broth
3 T chopped fresh parsley, separated
1 lb wide egg noodles
Salt and black pepper to taste

1. Cut the beef into 2 inch pieces. In a large casserole, heat half the olive oil at medium-high heat. Add the beef in batches, as to not crowd the pan. Sear beef on all sides until well browned and set aside.

2. When all the beef has been browned and set aside, add the onion, carrot and garlic to the pot over medium heat and cook for a few minutes until softened, stirring frequently. Sprinkle 3 T of the flour over the vegetables and cook for a couple minutes, then add the wine and tomato paste. Whisk until smooth.

3. Bring to a boil and return beef (and bacon if using), and then cover with beef broth. Cover the pot and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 3 hours or until the beef is very tender.

4. Mash 3 T of the soft butter with 3 T of flour with the back of a spoon until completely smooth to form a beurre manié. Gently whisk some of the cooking liquid into the beurre manié, and then whisk the mixture back into the stew. It will thicken very nicely! Season with salt and pepper to your liking.

5. While the meat is stewing away, in a separate pan, heat the remaining olive oil at medium heat and add the mushrooms. Sauté, stirring frequently, until golden, then set aside until ready to use.

6. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil, then generously salt the water and add the egg noodles. Cook until al dente and drain. Toss with the remaining 3T butter and half the parsley. Set aside and keep warm.

7. After the meat has simmered for 3 hours, add the sautéed mushrooms and pearl onions to the stew and cook, covered, for 30 minutes more. Stir in the remaining parsley before serving. Serve the stew over the egg noodles.

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