Sunday, October 20, 2013

"fancy beef" aka beef bourguignon

Happy Sunday y'all! I hope you are having a restful day. It is a beautiful fall day in the Land of Lincoln! As I type this, I can hear neighbors down the street mowing their lawns. The sun is shining and the air is cool. Our pups have enjoyed running around in the yard for most of the day so far. We started the morning with a great worship service and sermon about prayer at church. Then, I started on a lunch that I was so excited to share. After lunch, I gave Dustin a haircut on our back porch-- I am actually getting better at it! (While we were dating I may or may not have terribly messed up his haircut. Twice. Both before weddings he was either a part of or attending.) Overall, we have had a restful, productive weekend. Isn't it nice to mark things off of your to-do list? I feel like God has given me a desire to share more on this blog of what He has been teaching me lately, but I also want to continue to share recipes that are favorites in our household and some of our everyday happenings!

It has been a while since I have posted a recipe so when I finally tackled this once, I knew I wanted to share it! Beef Bourguignon is another one of those recipes that has been on my "to-try" list for a while. Now I have to say right off the bat, I cannot pronounce "bourguignon" to save my life. I took Spanish in high school, not French. My tongue gets tied with all the g's, u's, and n's. Dustin kept asking me what I was planning to cook, and after stuttering through "Beef Bourguignon" I finally gave up and said "We are having Fancy Beef!" Not only is Fancy Beef easier to say, it is easier to spell! Julia Child, Ina Garten, and other past and present culinary superstars are probably shaking their heads at me, but I'm sorry, Fancy Beef is what it is!

I had Fancy Beef for the first time a few years ago in college. My friend Alex made his version of the rich, French stew and it was delicious, as are all of his culinary creations. If you're not familiar with Fancy Beef, it is like a dressed up version of the classic roast, carrots, and potatoes. Alex served his on mashed potatoes, as I did today. Ina's recipe, which is the one I followed, calls for French bread instead of potatoes. You could do whatever sounds best to you! Roast, carrots, and potatoes is one of my favorite comfort foods. I love the combination. This is basically the same thing just a bit fancier-- wine as an ingredient makes it fancy to me!

Unless you have extra time on your hands during the week, or maybe have more experience in the kitchen, I would recommend saving this recipe for a weekend meal. It made a delicious Sunday afternoon lunch for us. There is a bit of prep, several steps, and it cooks for over an hour but it is so worth it! I do hope you will try it, even if a longer list of ingredients and directions is daunting. For me, chopping, stirring, and experimenting in the kitchen is therapeutic so I don't mind. A fun part about this recipe that will excite the guys in your life, is that you have to light it on fire to cook off the alcohol! I'm not gonna lie, I was kinda scared! I made sure to bring Dustin into the kitchen for that part. I think he was impressed. The cooking times and steps allow for cleaning as you go, which is a bonus in my book! While the carrots and onions were browning, I was able to wash some of my cutting boards and knives. While the stew was cooking in the oven, I was able to clean the whole kitchen! I followed Ina Garten's recipe for the most part. Of course, I put my own spin on it per usual.

"Fancy Beef"
aka Beef Bourguignon

8-10 ounces of thick sliced applewood smoked bacon, diced
2 1/2 pounds chuck beef cut into 1-inch cubes
1 pound carrots, sliced
1 pound bag frozen diced onions
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 cup cognac
1 (750 ml) bottle pinot noir, or any dry red wine
2 cups beef broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided, at room temperature
3 tablespoons gluten free flour
1 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced with stems removed
salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 250*. Lightly brown the bacon in a large oven-safe pot or dutch oven for about 10 minutes. Once lightly brown, remove with a slotted spoon and place on a large plate. Salt and pepper the beef that has been blotted dry with a paper towel. Add the beef in batches in a single layer in the bottom of the pot. Sear on all sides for 3 minutes or until nicely browned. Place beef with bacon on the plate for later. Add the carrots and 3/4 of the bag of onions to the pot, along with about a tablespoon of salt and two teaspoons of pepper. Cook in the meat juices for about 10-15 minutes until the onions are browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Turn down the heat to low. Pour in the cognac, stand back, light with a match or lighter, and allow alcohol to burn away. Once the flame disappears, add back the bacon and beef. Pour in the bottle of wine and about 2 cups of the beef broth, or until the beef is almost covered. Stir in the tomato paste and thyme and bring to a simmer. Cover with a tight fitting lid and place in the preheated oven for an hour and fifteen minutes or until the meat and vegetables are tender. Combine 3 tablespoons flour with 2 tablespoons butter until blended well. Stir into the stew. With ten minutes or so left in the cooking time, sauté the mushrooms for 10 minutes in 2 tablespoons of butter and add to the stew. Bring stew to a boil on top of the stove for about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve over mashed potatoes or bread. 

Notes: I poured off some of (not all) the fat/meat juices before adding the carrots and onions. Ina's recipe calls for more onions to be added with the mushrooms but I felt like 3/4 the bag was plenty for our taste. Also, I  used about a teaspoon or two of salt rather than a tablespoon of salt. I try to avoid adding extra sodium in our diet and will usually decrease the amount in any recipe. I kept the mashed potatoes pretty basic and not overly seasoned because of the richness of the stew. We really enjoyed this recipe. It is super filling-- just one serving and we were satisfied. Also, there are plenty of leftovers! 

I hope y'all try and enjoy Fancy Beef! If you do, let me know what you think!

It is a very warm and cozy meal to have on a cool, slow Sunday afternoon! 

Have a blessed Sabbath! 

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