Monday, February 15, 2010

Valentine's Day Dinner

Last night's Valentine's dinner was a success! Since we watched Julie & Julia last week I have been wanting to make Boeuf Bourguignon, but I knew it would be a big undertaking...more for a special occasion than a Tuesday night, so I decided to try it out for Valentine's Day. I happen to have a Julia Child cookbook that my mom got me, I believe from a tag sale, a few years ago. I wouldn't say it was difficult to make, just time consuming. I also made brownies from a recipe in ad hoc at home which were maybe the best brownies I've ever had. However...the pan I cooked them in was 8x8 and the recipe called for 9x9 so the cooking time was off (I had to cook them for longer), and when i took them out of the pan they weren't cooled enough so they didn't stay intact and the picture I took didn't even really come out very well. So I'll share the recipe and a new picture next time I make them with the proper pan. But I'll just say that the recipe has 3 sticks of butter and 2 dark chocolate can't go wrong with that.

Here's the recipe for the Boeuf Bourguignon, from Julia Child's The Way to Cook. It's a really nice special occasion meal, or something fun to make on a Saturday or Sunday night. I know it looks long and complicated, but when you break it down it's not bad, I promise. The way I see it, it's done in 3 parts. The assembling of things that go in the casserole, the cooking of the onions and mushrooms, and the putting it all together at the end (the draining of the liquid, adding beurre-manie, onions, and mushrooms). I cut the recipe in half. For red wine, I used a merlot/cabernet blend. Zinfandel is good too; you want a heavier red wine, not a pinot noir or beaujolais. Also, I cooked it on the stove in a dutch oven, and kept it covered the whole time. I simmered it at probably a little higher heat than I should have, but this made the sauce reduce nicely so I didn't have to reduce it more at the end. For the beurre-manie: you want about 1 Tbs for every cup of liquid. So I did about 1 1/2 Tbs flour, and 1 Tbs butter. I served the dish with just sliced french bread for dipping, but any kind of starch (mashed or roasted potatoes, rice, noodles) would be good.

Boeuf Bourguignon

For 6 to 8 servings

3 to 4 lbs boneless beef stew meat, cut into cubes about 1 1/2 to 2 inches
cooking oil
2 dozen pearl onions
2/3 cup sliced carrots
5 to 6 cups liquid (all red wine or a mixture such as 1 bottle of wine plus beef stock)
2 or 3 large cloves of garlic, smashed
2 cups tomatoes (1 whole unpeeled tomato, cored and chopped, plus canned drained Italian plum tomatoes)
1 bay leaf
1 tsp thyme
about 1/2 to 1 cup chicken stock
6 cups fresh mushrooms, trimmed, washed, dried, and quartered or sliced
1/2 Tbs sliced shallots or scallions
3 Tbs flour and 2 Tbs softened butter blended to a paste, for the beurre-manie sauce
large skillet, 3-quart casserole or baking dish

Dry the meat thoroughly with paper towels - damp meat won't brown. Film a large skillet with 1/16 inch of oil and set over moderately high heat. When very hot but not smoking, brown as many pieces of meat will fit in one layer without crowding. Turn frequently to brown on all sides - 3 to 5 minutes; transfer pieces as they are done to casserole.

Skim all but a spoonful of fat out of the skillet (if burned discard all and add fresh oil); turn in the sliced carrots, stirring and tossing for 3 to 4 minutes to brown lightly before scraping them out over the beef. Pour a cup of red wine wine/stock combination into the skillet, swishing and scraping up any juices, and pour into casserole. Add the garlic and 4 more cups of wine/stock to casserole; fold in tomatoes, bay leaf, thyme, and salt to taste. You should have enough liquid to almost cover the beef; add more if needed. **this much of the recipe may be completed a day in advance; cover when cool, and refrigerate**

Bring to simmer on top of the stove; cook at a slow simmer on top of the stove or in the oven for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, turning and basting the meat several times until just fork-tender. If your casserole dish is not flame-proof, set it in a 425 degree oven for 10 minutes or so, then reduce to 350 degrees and start timing.

When finished cooking, pour the contents of the casserole into a colander set over a saucepan; wash out the casserole and return the pieces of beef to it. Skim any grease/fat off the top of the liquid in the saucepan and taste for seasoning; you should have about 3 cups of liquid. Add the beurre-manie sauce (the flour/butter paste). Boil the liquid down rapidly if it's flavor needs concentrating, and add back to casserole dish when finished. Add cooked onions and mushrooms (see below) and mix together for a couple minutes. Serve in bowls.

Onions and mushrooms:
When the meat has about 30-45 minutes left to cook, prepare the brown-braised onions, which will be added to the dish just before serving. In a medium skillet saute the peeled onions in a little clarified butter or oil, swirling pan to turn them; they will not brown evenly, but will take on a decent amount of color. Then add chicken broth (and if you wish, a little red wine) to come up halfway. Season lightly with salt and perhaps a bay leaf or a pinch of dried herbs. Cover and simmer slowly for 25 to 30 minutes, until the onions are tender when pierced but still hold their shape.

When the meat has about 10 minutes left to cook, prepare the sauteed mushrooms. Set a large skillet over high heat with 1 Tbs butter and 1 tsp oil (olive or canola). When the butter foam begins to subside, toss in the sliced mushrooms. Toss frequently, swirling pan by its handle, for several minutes, while the mushrooms absorb the butter. In a minute or two add the chopped shallots or scallions. Toss with a sprinkling of salt and freshly ground pepper.


  1. wow! impressive! love the place settings! meemee

  2. i can't accept that you made this. just reading it made me tired! i hope you shared with the three men in your life.