I don’t know about you but I can’t believe 2010 has come and gone. It was an exciting, eventful, and yes, even stressful year for me. A year full of changes. I went back to school and embarked on a new career that I love, finding work at a company that I really wanted to work for. Unfortunately, blogging ended up falling by the wayside–especially since I have also been hard at work on a novel as well.
For the last couple of weeks I have been feeling guilty for not having posted one single holiday recipe. It’s not that I haven’t been cooking, because I have. There is a backlog of photos on my computer and with so many holiday events, birthdays (including my own) and other get-togethers this month, I’ve managed to eat at some restaurants that were new to me and visit a couple of favorites.
I’ve even strengthened my commitment to whole, natural, unprocessed foods. This year I have realized how poorly I do on some of the foods that are a big part of our everyday lives. I’ve always told myself that I can’t afford to shop at the farmer’s market or buy expensive grain-fed meats and raw milk cheeses. I now see that I can’t afford not to. Gratinée has always been about fresh home cooking, often with a French twist. But in the coming year I plan on including more gluten and dairy-free choices, as well as taking a closer look at ingredients and techniques that are de rigueur in the French kitchen. I’ll be making a foray into paté making, whipping up hollandaise sauce, and jus de veau brun (brown veal stock). I’ll also be sharing a few of my favorite Vancouver restaurants. There are so many in this culinary paradise. If you’re still there, dear reader, I hope you will join me on my journey into the heart of rustic French country cooking.
Now, onto beef stew. Specifically, Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon, which I think is a fabulous note on which to end the year. Forget crowded restaurants and nightclubs; I think one of the best ways to ring in the New Year is at home, sharing food and wine with family or friends.
Boeuf Bourguignon is a one pot meal that takes some preparation, but you still will not be spending the whole day in the kitchen. And it’s elegant–which is not a word that often comes to mind when considering stew. Julia herself said that there are many ways to arrive at Boeuf Bourguignon, but her recipe is my favorite. I like to serve it with a gratin dauphinois–potatoes scalloped in cheese and cream–and a side of buttered green beans with a garnish of minced roasted shallot. Punctuated with a simple and decadent crème brûlée for dessert, you will have a meal that will have your guests swooning.
Bon Appetit and Happy New Year!
Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon
adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking
6 ounces European bacon with rind
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 pounds lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 carrot, sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons flour
3 cups full-bodied red wine
2 to 3 cups beef stock
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves mashed garlic
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf, crumbled
20 small white onions
1 pound quartered fresh mushrooms
3 tablespoons butter
1.) Preheat oven to 450F. Remove rind and cut bacon into lardons (sticks). Simmer rind and bacon for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts of water. Drain and dry on a paper towel.
2.) Sauté bacon in the olive oil over medium heat in a 10-inch fireproof casserole dish (3-inches deep) until lightly browned. Remove to a side dish with a fork or slotted spoon. Dry the beef in paper towels to ensure browning. Sauté a few pieces at a time in the olive oil and bacon fat on high heat until browned on all sides. Add to bacon.
3.) Brown the vegetables in the same fat. Pour out the fat and return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with flour and toss again to coat. Set casserole dish in the middle position of oven for 4 minutes, uncovered. Toss the meat and return to oven for 4 more minutes (to brown the flour and cover the meat with a light crust). Remove casserole and lower heat to 325F.
4.) Stir in the wine and enough stock so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs, and rind from the bacon. Bring to a simmer on top of the stove. Cover casserole and set in lower third of the oven. Simmer slowly for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.
5.) To peel the onions, cook in boiling water until the skins come loose–about 10 minutes. Trim off stems and discard skins. Sauté onions and mushrooms in butter. Set aside until needed.
6.) When the meat is ready, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan. Wash out the casserole dish and return the beef and bacon to it. Distribute the mushrooms and onions over the meat.
7.) Skim fat off the sauce. Simmer sauce for a couple of minutes, skimming the fat off 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. Adjust seasonings if necessary. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables.
- for immediate serving: cover the casserole and simmer for about 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times. Serve in the casserole dish.
- for later serving: bring to a simmer, cover and simmer slowly for about 10 minutes, occasionally basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce.