Boeuf Bourguignon | JC100 – Week 15

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It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for… the fifteenth and FINAL week of the JC100! FIFTEEN WHOLE WEEKS, that’s three and a half months…105 DAYS…nearly a third of a year! And of course, the final dish is one of Julia’s flagship recipes – Boeuf Bourguignon. This couldn’t have worked out better, as my mother made beef stew on Sunday, and had purchased about 5 pounds of stewing beef. Suspecting that this recipe was coming, I made sure she set aside 3 pounds in case my premonitions came true!

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As a stew described by Julia Child as “one of the most delicious beef dishes concocted by man”, I was definitely looking forward to the end result of this rather laborious recipe. Though I can’t say whether this was man-kinds most delicious beef dish, as I am no connoisseur of beef stews, it definitely did not disappoint! The stew was rich, hearty and had an array of wonderful flavours!

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Buckle up, this is a long one!

Boeuf Bourguignon

Excerpted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child. Copyright © 1961 by Alfred A. Knopf. Reprinted with permission from the publisher Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.
Serves 6
  • 6 ounce chunk of bacon
  • A 9-10 inch fireproof casserole 3 inches deep
  • 1 Tb olive oil or cooking oil
  • A slotted spoon
  • 3 lbs. lean stewing beef cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1 sliced carrot
  • 1 sliced onion
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 2 Tb flour
  • 3 cups of a full-bodied, young red wine
  • 2-3 cups brown beef stock or canned beef bouillon
  • 1 Tb tomato paste
  • 2 cloves mashed garlic
  • ½ tsp thyme
  • 1 crumbled bay leaf
  • The blanched bacon rind
  • 18-24 small white onions, brown-braised in stock
  • 1 lb. quartered fresh mushrooms sauteed in butter
  • Parsley sprigs
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Remove rind, and cut bacon into lardons (sticks, ¼ inch thick and 1½ inches long). Simmer rind and bacon for 10 minutes in 1½ quarts of water. Drain and dry.

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Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

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Saute the bacon in the oil over moderate heat for 2-3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon. Set casserole aside. Reheat until fat is almost smoking before you saute the beef.

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Dry the beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Saute it, a few pieces at a time, in the hot oil and bacon fat until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the bacon.

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In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the sauteing fat.

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Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with salt and pepper. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly with the flour. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat and return to oven for 4 minutes more. (This browns the flour and covers the meat with a light crust.) Remove casserole, and turn oven down to 325 degrees.

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Stir in the wine, and enough stock or bouillon so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs, and bacon rind. Bring to simmer on top of the stove. Then cover the casserole and set in lower third of preheated oven. Regulate heat so liquid simmers very slowly for 2½ to 3 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.

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While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms. Set them aside until needed.

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When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan. Wash out the casserole and return the beef and bacon to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms over the meat.

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Skim fat off the sauce. Simmer sauce for a minute or two, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2½ 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 or canned bouillon. Taste carefully for seasoning. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables. (*) Recipe may be completed in advance to this point.

For immediate serving: Cover the casserole and simmer for 2-3 minutes before serving, bring to the simmer, cover, and simmer very slowly for 10 minutes, occasionally basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce.

Brown-braised Onions

For 18-24 peeled onions
  • 1½ Tb butter
  • 1½ Tb oil
  • A 9-10 inch enameled skillet
  • ½ cup brown stock, of beef bouillon, dry white wine, red wine, or water
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • A medium herb bouquet: 4 parsley sprigs, ½ bay leaf, and ¼ tsp thyme tied in cheesecloth

When the butter and oil are bubbling in the skillet, add the onions and saute over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling the onions about so they will brown as evenly as possible. Be careful not to break their skins. You cannot expect to brown them uniformly.

Braise them as follows:

Pour in the liquid, season to taste, and add the herb bouquet. Cover and simmer slowly for 40-50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but retain their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Remove herb bouquet. Serve them as they are, or follow one of the suggestions at the end of the recipe.

Or bake them as follows:

Transfer the onions and their sauteing fat to a shallow baking dish or casserole just large enough to hold them in one layer. Set uncovered in upper third of a preheated 350-degree oven for 40-50 minutes, turning them over once or twice. They should be very tender, retain their shape, and be a nice golden brown. Remove herb bouquet. Serve them as they are or according to one of the following suggestions.

* The onions may be cooked hours in advance, and reheated before serving.

Sauteed Mushrooms

For ½ lb. fresh mushrooms, washed, well dried, left whole if small, sliced or quartered if large
  • A 10-inch enameled skillet
  • 2 Tb butter
  • 1 Tb oil
  • Optional: 1-2 Tb minced shallots or green onions
  • Salt and pepper

Place the skillet over high heat with the butter and oil. As soon as you see that the butter foam has begun to subside, indicating it is hot enough, add the mushrooms. Toss and shake the pan for 4-5 minutes. During their saute the mushrooms will at first absorb the fat. In 2-3 minutes the fat will reappear on their surface, and the mushrooms will begin to brown. As soon as they have browned lightly, remove from heat.

Toss the shallots or green onions with the mushrooms. Saute over moderate heat for 2 minutes.

* Sauteed mushrooms may be cooked in advance, set aside, then reheated when needed. Season to taste just before serving.

Well that’s it folks! Hope you can take the time some day to give this one a go, as I’m sure you’ll enjoy the end results! While this is the last recipe from the JC100 celebration, the festivities don’t end here!  We’ll be taking a look back at the recipes over the fifteen weeks, talk about our favourites, our thoughts on Julia Child and the whole JC100 celebration and we’ll even be doing a book review and GIVEAWAY of the new Bob Spitz’s biography “Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child.

If you’re on twitter be sure to follow JC100 tomorrow and join in their twitter party from 10am to 5pm (EST) for giveaways all day!

Bon Appetit!

Bob

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