I made a wicked good batch of Beef Bourguignonne recently, adapted from a recipe in Lisa Schroeder and Danielle Centoni’s beautiful new book, Mother’s Best (Taunton, 2009). My guests loved it, I liked it (in fact I had it for breakfast just moments ago), and my buddies on Facebook have been clamouring for the recipe. As did my brother in Wisconsin. Seems everyone in the country is in this deep chill and needs a beefy stew like thing to warm them. In fact, I recommend their book to anyone who likes homey comfort food from around the world.
My testing of the recipe wound up being a bit too thin in the sauce department, which likely has to do with the high-sided stock pot I had to use because I am not lucky enough to own a massive 10-quart Dutch oven the recipe calls for. (Take note loyal readers who want to get me a Christmas gift.)
To remedy the sauce, I simmered it uncovered on the stove for the last 30 minutes to thicken the sauce a bit. Otherwise, it was lovely. Be warned, though: this recipe is true classic French cooking: It takes LOTS of time puttering in the kitchen. If you need dinner on the table in like, 30 minutes, this ain’t the recipe for you. If, however, you’re snowed in, as my brother was, or feel like getting into the kitchen and channeling your inner Julia Child, the rewards for your time are great. It doesn’t hurt to have a glass of red wine to keep you company.
I served the beef stew (because that is really what it is) with celery root mashed potatoes; I’ve included my recipe for them from my book, The Farm to Table Cookbook: The Art of Eating Locally, which incidentally, would be a nice Christmas gift for all your friends and family who ought to eat more vegetables. I also poured a bottle of the most excellent Resonance Pinot Noir , which you must go seek out immediately. It’s like drinking silk. More than this, you know there’s nothing, to quote Brian Ferry.
And what about Mr. Tofu, you ask? I made him some seared scallops, because he will eat those if forced to, and they went nicely with the mashers.
Adapted from Mother’s Best, by Lisa Schroeder with Danielle Centoni
5 pound beef chuck roast, cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks
1 1/2 teaspooons kosher salt (divided)
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces pepper bacon (I like Niman ranch), cut crosswise into 1/2 inch pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large leek, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
2 cups finely chopped onions
2 1/2 cups finely chopped carrots
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/4 cup brandy
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 nice bottle of dry red wine, such as a French Burgundy from Drouhin
4 cups hot water mixed with 1 package More Than Gourmet Demi Glace, or low sodium canned beef stock
1 bouquet garni (1 bay leaf, 2 sprigs thyme, 3 parsley stems tied together)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter (divided)
4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch thick sliced on the bias
1 pound cremini mushrooms, quartered
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
1. Heat oven to 350 F. Season beef cubes with 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Cook the bacon in a large Dutch oven (8-10 qt.) until crisp, remove from pan and place of a paper-towel lined plate. Leave bacon fat in pan.
2. Increase heat to high and brown the beef in batches (about 5 batches). Remove all beef from pot, reduce heat to medium-high and add olive oil, if needed. Cook the leeks, onions, and finely chopped carrots and saute until tender, 10 minutes. Add garlic and saute 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
3. Add the brandy and cook for 4 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and stir in the flour, cook 3 minutes. Stir in the wine in small additions, scraping up browned bits. Add the meat and enough stock to just cover the meat, about 3 to 3 3/4 cups. Bring to a boil, cover and transfer to oven.
4. Bake until a large piece of meat can be cut in half easily with a fork, about 2 hours. Remove from oven an simmer uncovered, if necessary, to thicken the sauce.
5. While the stew is simmering on the stove, make the glazed veggies. (The original recipe called for 10 ounces of pearl onions, but I hate them, so I replaced them with sliced carrots.) Place a medium saute pan over medium-high heat. Add a tablespoon of butter and the carrots. Season with salt and pepper and saute until they are lightly browned. Add 1/4 cup stock, cover, and cook until tender and glazed, 15 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
6. Add remaining butter to the same saute pan, add mushrooms and a bit of salt and pepper, and cook until browned, 10 minutes. Pour into bowl with carrots. Microwave the bacon briefly to reheat it.
7. Season the stew with salt and pepper, if needed. Ladle over mashed potatoes, top with sauteed vegetables, bacon and parsley. Serves 10-12
Celery Root Mashed Potatoes
From The Farm to Table Cookbook, by Ivy Manning (Sasquatch Books, 2008)
6 to 8 servings
6 large Yukon gold potatoes (about 3 pounds), peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
1 to 1 1/2 pounds celery root
3 medium garlic cloves, peeled
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups whole milk, plus additional
1 bay leaf
4 black peppercorns
3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 pinches cayenne
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Put the potatoes in a large pot with enough cold water to cover. Slice off the top stalks (if present) and bottom roots from the celery root and peel the skin and hairy roots away with a sharp vegetable peeler and/or paring knife. Cut the celery root into 1/2-inch slabs, then into 2-inch sticks; add to the pot. Add the garlic, salt, and enough cold water to cover the vegetables by 2 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until a paring knife slices easily through the largest piece of potato, about 40 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat 1 1/2 cups of the milk, bay leaf, and peppercorns in a small saucepan over low heat.
3. Drain the potatoes and celery root. Force them through a potato ricer or food mill to make a silky-smooth purée.
Stir in the butter, nutmeg, and cayenne. Remove the peppercorns and bay leaf from milk with a slotted spoon. Add enough milk to potatoes to make a loose purée. Season with the salt and pepper and serve warm.