Boeuf Bourguignon

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Well, I finally got up the courage to make Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon. There aren’t too many recipes that intimidate me, but this dish is legendary and, frankly, I was afraid that I would mess it up.

I’m happy to report that it was much easier to prepare than I expected, and IT IS SO GOOD! This is no ordinary beef stew, my friends. As Julia put it, “It is certainly one of the most delicious beef dishes concocted by man.” Picture this: tender potatoes smothered in a rich savory sauce with melt-in-your-mouth pieces of beef, topped with mushrooms and onions sautéed to golden-brown perfection. Oh, and did I mention it also has bacon – and wine? 

I tweaked the recipe just a tad to suit my taste (and laziness) but most of the ingredients and steps are the same. You must make this recipe soon, but be sure to allow plenty of time, as this will need around 3 hours to cook (don’t worry, only about 30 minutes of that is hands-on).

8 oz of bacon, cut into 2-inch long pieces
3 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
3 lbs beef rump roast, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 carrot sliced
2 ribs of celery, sliced
2 medium onions, sliced (divided)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons flour
3 cups full-bodied red wine
2-3 cups beef broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, mashed
2 sprigs fresh thyme
6-8 yukon gold potatoes, cut into quarters
1 package mushrooms, sliced

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Heat a large Dutch Oven or enameled cast iron pan (something that can be used both on the stovetop and in the oven) over medium low heat. Add the bacon pieces and cook until the bacon is browned lightly. Remove the bacon to a plate, reserving the bacon grease in the pan.

Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the bacon grease and heat over medium-high heat. Grab a wad of paper towels and dry each piece of beef before placing it in the hot pan. Only add a few pieces at a time, so they don’t touch. Sauté until nicely browned on each side, then remove to the plate with the bacon, while you brown the remaining pieces of beef.

Remove all of the beef from the pan, and then add the carrots, celery, and ½ of the sliced onions (you may need to add a bit of oil to the pan first). Cook until the vegetables are lightly browned. Return the beef and bacon to the pan, and then add the salt and pepper. Sprinkle on the flour and toss to coat. Place the pan, uncovered, in the oven for 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, toss the meat again, and then return to the oven for another 4 minutes.

Return the pan to the stove and turn the oven down to 325 degrees.

Add the wine and enough beef broth so that the meat is barely covered. Stir in the tomato paste, garlic, and thyme. Bring to a simmer on the stove, then cover and set in the lower third of the oven. Cook for 2 ½ to 3 hours, adjusting the heat if needed to maintain a very slow simmer.

While the beef is cooking, add the potatoes to a large pot of water and boil until tender. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium heat. Add the remaining sliced onions and sauté for several minutes until golden brown. Remove to a plate and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet. Sauté the mushrooms in batches, so the mushrooms have plenty of room to brown (remember from the movie . . . “Don’t crowd the mushrooms!”). Add the mushrooms to the onions and season with salt and pepper.

To serve, place several potato pieces in a large bowl, cover with the beef and broth, and then top with the sautéed mushrooms and onions. Prepare to say “Yum!”

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Chicken with Wine and Mushrooms

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This recipe produces perfectly browned chicken smothered in a rich sauce made with red wine, cream, and mushrooms. Chicken thighs are used because they stay moister than chicken breasts. The key to creating a rich sauce with complex flavors is to slowly reduce it . . . your patience will be rewarded!

Salt and pepper
6-8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 package baby bella mushrooms, sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 cup dry red wine
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

In a shallow bowl, mix some flour (about 1/2 cup) with salt and pepper, to taste. Sprinkle the chicken with a bit more salt and pepper, and then dredge the chicken in the seasoned flour.

Heat the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken (in batches, if necessary) and sauté, turning once, until deeply browned on all sides, about 8 minutes. Reduce heat to low, or medium-low, cover, and cook until the chicken is tender, about 10 minutes. Remove the chicken from the skillet and set aside.

Turn the heat up to medium, add the mushrooms to the skillet and cook for a few minutes, until the mushrooms begin to soften. Add the red wine, scraping up any brown bits stuck to the bottom of the skillet. Boil gently for about 4 minutes.

Add the cream, and reduce for about 4 minutes, or until the sauce begins to thicken. Add the chicken back to the skillet and continue to simmer for about 5 more minutes, or until the sauce is reduced.

Serve the chicken and sauce over rice or pasta, or with a crusty piece of bread, and some tender veggies.

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