So rainy and cold here today, it just begs for some French bistro comfort food. So, time to crack open a nice bottle of wine and make a hearty beef stew. I just braved the weather to pull together the basics for preparing my beef bourguignon.
2 Tbsp. Butter
3 cloves of Garlic, chopped
1 Shallot, chopped
1/4 lb. lightly smoked, unsmoked Bacon or salt pork
1 lb pearl Onions, blanched in boiling water for 5 minutes and then peeled. Frozen pearl onions are a good time saver.
½ lb of whole Mushrooms
4 lbs. of boneless Beef Short Ribs, or Beef Chuck, cut into 2 to 3inch pieces
3 large Carrots, peeled and chopped into 2 to 3 inch pieces, or a 1 lb bag of baby Carrots
1 bottle of Red Wine (Pinot Noir is perfect)
½ cup Cognac
½ tsp. dried Thyme, or 6 stalks of fresh thyme
2 Bay Leaf
3 tsp. of Salt
Fresh ground Black Pepper
Cut the meat and put into a large bowl or plastic freezer bag with 4 springs of the fresh thyme, 1 bay leaf and two cloves of garlic, crushed with the side of your knife.
Now add 1 tsp salt and freshly ground black pepper, pour in the wine and marinade for a few hours. You can marinade overnight if you prefer.
Hint: If you are using a freezer bag, make sure to put the bag in a dish or Pyrex baking dish, so you will not end up with a refrigerator full of wine, if the bag leaks. Yes, it has happened to me.
Melt the butter and quickly render down the bacon in your heavy saucepan, add the additional garlic and shallot sauté briefly and then add the pearl onions and cook them until the onions are glistening. Remove from pan and set aside.
Drain the beef, reserving the marinade, add the beef a bit at the time, working in batches and lightly brown it. When all beef is browned, combine the beef and add back the bacon and onion mixture. Add the cognac, light it and cook away the alcohol, just leaving the flavor.
Now add the wine marinade and rest of the ingredients (carrots, mushrooms, remaining spices wrapped in cheesecloth etc.), and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and cook for 2-3 hours, removing the cover for the last 30 minutes.
Note: If you have a cast iron or enameled cast iron pot, you may also cook this in the oven. Personally, I prefer this method, as it cooks by surrounding the dish, rather than just from the bottom. If you choose to cook it in this way, use the oven at 350 degrees, for the same timing and directions.