The moment there is a nip in the air I get out my trusty Le Creuset cookware and make Boeuf Bourguignon. In my humble opinion it is the perfect dish to usher in autumn. Julia Child’s version was my very first attempt at this classic recipe (many moons ago). Julia was my very first friend in the kitchen. Today my version is adapted from "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck (Alfred A. Knopf, 1961) and a recipe from a March 2001 issue of Gourmet. Do you have any favorite versions of this recipe? Bon appétit!
4 oz chopped pancetta
3 pounds boneless sirlion beef, cubed
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup brandy
4 fresh flat leaf parsley stems
4 fresh thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
2 onions, finely chopped
3 large garlic cloves, crushed
2 cups of baby carrots, whole (or carrots chopped thick)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 (750-ml) bottle dry, bold red wine (preferably Burgundy)
1 pound of small button mushrooms, quartered if large
1 pound small pearl onions
Season beef with salt and pepper. Divide flour and beef between 2 (1-quart) sealable plastic bags, seal bags, then shake to coat meat with the flour.
Heat 1‚ tablespoons oil and 1 1/2 tablespoons butter in a wide 6- to 8-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then brown beef well on all sides in 2 or 3 batches, without crowding, adding remaining‚ tablespoon oil as needed. Transfer to a bowl.
Pour off any excess oil from pot, then add brandy to pot. Deglaze by boiling brandy over high heat 1 minute, stirring and scraping up brown bits, then pour over beef.
Tie parsley, thyme and bay leaves together with kitchen string to make a bouquet garni.
Heat 1 tablespoon butter in the pot over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then sauté pancetta, stirring, 2-3 minutes. Add chopped onions, garlic, and carrots, then sauté, stirring, until chopped onions are pale and golden, about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add wine, meat with juices, mushrooms and bouquet garni. Simmer gently, partially covered.
While meat simmers, in a separate pot, blanch pearl onions in boiling salted water for 1 minute and drain in a colander. Rinse under cold running water, then peel. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then sauté boiling onions, stirring occasionally, until browned in patches. Season with salt and pepper. Add 2 cups water, then simmer, partially covered, until onions are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Boil, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced to a glaze, 5 to 10 minutes.
Stir onions into stew and simmer gently, partially covered. Cook until meat is tender (3 1/2 to 4 hours).