It took longer to make this Boeuf Bourguignon than the “cold front” that I made it for — lasted. Here’s the story — about two weeks ago, South Florida geared up for its first cold-front of the season! This is a big deal for us. The weather man hypes the chilly temperatures for days leading up to the actually event. People dig out their sweaters and jackets, ladies unpack there stylin’ boots and everyone — but everyone — wants a big pot of something warm on the stove. It’s like the whole community is trying to capture that apple-picking, hot-cider-sipping, hay-ride-esque fall nostalgia that completely eludes us 360 days a year.
The “cold front” I’m referring to, was a brief 24 hours where the thermometer remained below 80° during the day and dipped to the upper 60’s at night. And South Floridians were positively giddy at the prospect. Myself included. Which is why as the front approached, I was already planning my home-y comfort meal.
When I woke up that Sunday morning, it was a crisp 68°. I opened every window in the house (the first time we’d aired it out since April) and put on a pair of jeans and a light long-sleeved shirt. While Scott was busy appraising his fantasy football rosters, I was searing beef and taking pictures.
As we got closer to noon, the temperature started to creep up. It was in the low 70’s. Still not bad — because we generally have the A/C set to 77°. I changed into a short-sleeved shirt and kept working — putting the finishing touches on the braise and loving the way the house was both cool from the breeze, and warm from the delicious smells in the kitchen.
But by the time the pot actually went into the oven and I was getting out a second pot to braise the onions and saute the mushrooms, the A/C actually kicked on by itself. I knew it was going to happen, but I was still annoyed when it did.
Not even one full day of fall before we were swept back into the sticky reality of South Florida.
But I had come this far on my Boeuf Bourguignon, so I continued my assembly — I was using Julia Child’s recipe here — which required cooking the mushrooms and onions separately from the actual bourguignon and straining the vegetables from the sauce before finally assembling the whole deal. Let me tell you, it was quite a production.
Scott opened a good bottle of wine and after one bite, we both agreed that the effort was worth it. Well — of course, he agreed. He sat on the couch and watched football while I cooked. That said, the bourguignon was rich and meaty, with big chunks of mushrooms and tender braised pearl onions. And that sauce. We couldn’t get enough of that sauce. So what if we had to turn down the A/C a few degrees to enjoy it? Wow!
Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon
For the Beef
- 6 ounces bacon sliced crosswise 1/4" thick pieces
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2-3 pounds beef chuck roast cut into 2 inch cubes
- 1 carrot peeled and sliced
- 1 small onion peeled and sliced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 1/2 cups red wine full bodied
- 2-3 cups beef stock or broth
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 cloves garlic mashed
- 5-6 sprigs thyme tied in kitchen string
- 2 bay leaves
For the Onions
- 6-7 ounces pearl onions from freezer section (thawed)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 sprigs parsley
- 3-4 sprigs thyme
- 1/2 bay leaf
- 1/2 cup beef broth or stock
For the Mushrooms
- 1 pound white mushrooms stems removed, quartered
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- chopped parsley
- Preheat the oven to 450°.
- In a large dutch oven, heat the olive oil until glistening over medium high heat. Add the bacon and cook for several minutes until lightly browned and fragrant. Scoop the bacon with a spoon, tilt against the side of the pan to drain excess grease and transfer to a large, shallow bowl.
- Use several paper towels to dry the pieces of beef (if they're not dry, they won't brown) and add them in batches to the dutch oven to brown. Brown the beef on all sides and then transfer the pieces to the bowl with the bacon. Continue until all the beef has been browned.
- Add the onions and carrots to the dutch oven and brown them, stirring occasionally.
- Return the beef, bacon and any drippings to the dutch oven. Add the salt and pepper and stir to combine. Sprinkle with the flour and stir until the meat and vegetables are well coated. Put the dutch oven uncovered into the hot oven and cook for 4 minutes. Stir the contents of the pot and continue to cook for an additional 4 minutes. (this will give the meat a nice crust).
- Reduce the oven temperature to 325°.
- Add the wine to the pot and add enough beef stock to barely cover the meat. Stir in the tomato paste, garlic, thyme and bay leaves. Cover the pot tightly with a lid and place back in the oven. Braise for 3-4 hours or until the beef is tender.
- While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms.
For the onions
- Tie the parsley and thyme into a bundle with kitchen string. In a large enameled pan, heat the butter and olive oil over medium high heat until the foam has subsided from the pan. Add the onions and cook until they are lightly browned. Add the herbs, bay leaf and beef stock and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to a medium low, cover and cook for 30-40 minutes -- until most of the liquid has evaporated. Transfer the onions to a bowl and set aside.
For the mushrooms
- In a large skillet heat half the olive oil and butter until the foam from the butter begins to subside. Add half the mushrooms to the pan and cook until browned. They will first absorb the oil, and then begin to brown... do not crowd the mushrooms in the pan. Transfer cooked mushrooms to the same bowl as the onions. Continue with the remaining mushrooms, by heating the oil and butter until the foam subsides, adding the mushrooms and then browning them evenly. Transfer mushrooms to the bowl and set aside.
- When the meat is tender, use a slotted spoon to transfer it to a bowl -- Set a strainer over a medium bowl and strain the vegetables and broth through the strainer. Press lightly on the vegetables to get as much sauce from them as possible without pushing through the solids. Transfer the beef back to the pot and pour the sauce over the beef. Add the mushrooms and onions (I saved a few carrots too, because I love them).
- Heat the contents through on the stove top and serve with crusty bread and a good red wine.