Bœuf bourguignon

This is a meat and gravy that can be served over pasta, potato or in other settings, but it is formally served over pasta. It’s a good way to serve many with little. Here, I’m serving 11 with just under 4 pounds of diverse cuts I found in my freezer in a pinch one Saturday evening after a long, hard day when I just didn’t want to make a trip to the store: 2 cubed and 3 tri-tip steaks, plus 3 small tenderloins (filet mignon) I had just never used. I thawed them overnight in the refrigerator wondering what I would do with them until about 3 o’clock the next afternoon. I started cooking about 4h30 and we started eating a little after 5 o’clock.

I would not have thought of my endeavor as worthwhile recording in recipe form except that I received overt compliments on it by a French woman and a Japanese man who came to eat Sunday dinner at my house the next day.

Yield

Approximatly ¼-½ pound of meat uncooked per person.

Ingredients

olive oil
4 lb beef, cut into 1-inch cubes, steak tip is inexpensive
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 can beef stock
1 can chicken stock
½ cup red wine or brandy
1 cup water
roux to thicken 4-5 cups of liquid

Preparation

1. Heat a large kettle to hot. It is best to avoid non-stick pans. I use an enameled, cast iron pot. Add olive oil.

2. Brown the cubed meat in very small batches—no more than will barely cover the bottom of the pan. Sauté until quite dark, but the cubes should still present some red on the edges that aren’t cooked. (Unless you’re very fastidious, you will not be able to brown all 6 faces of every meat cube.) Remove and replace with next batch. 4 pounds of meat should require about 4 batches.

3. Add more olive oil, the chopped onion and salt (see a discussion on reduction and flavor concentration). Sauté until it begins to brown, then add the stock and wine to dissolve the fond left on the pan from browning the meat. Using only beef stock imparts too heavy a flavor. Simmer while making the roux.

4. Make enough roux to thicken the liquid simmering in the pot, about 4-5 cups. This would be 4 or 5 tablespoons of butter or oil plus 4 or 5 slightly heaping tbsp of flour. See my discussion on roux for the whole story.

5. Add the roux to the simmering pot. If you add the roux instead of cold, then the roux must be cooked enough or it will lump up. In any case, wisk it into the bourguignon vigorously. Mix over heat until it stops getting thicker adding water to keep it to the desired thickness.

6. Add the cooked meat cubes in and serve.