Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Deconstructing Boef Bourguignon

I've always loved Boef Bourguignon. My mom made an abbreviated version of it while I was growing up, using 2 different kinds of canned soup. Once I started to cook on my own, I wanted to do it the correct way. I've followed (almost) the recipe of the original celebrity chef, Julia Child, for many years.

If you read this blog, I've written about my love of Julia and all things French several times. Here's my original Boef Bourguignon post from a while back. I still love that recipe, but I decided to tinker around with it a little bit.

Since I love to cook, and it was my birthday, I got to cook and eat what I wanted. That's always been our family tradition: You get to pick your birthday dinner and eat what you want on your special day. My husband can make a great breakfast, and is an excellent sandwich maker, but I pretty much rule at dinnertime. SO, I did exactly what I wanted to do this past weekend: I tinkered around with a recipe and made what I wanted, and what I did was to deconstruct Boef Bourguignon.

What I mean was that instead of using bits of stew beef or the end of a larger roast, I used a whole steak. I got the idea for this watching Ina Garten, my current favorite Food Network chef, making a dinner to deliver to a friend for a dinner party. Ina was a caterer first, so I figured she'd know all about celebratory meals and presentation. I've altered her recipe a bit, eliminating some of the butter and thickening agents she recommended. I used my favorite cut of steak, an inch thick piece of tenderloin. In the original recipe, the beef is summered a long time in rich, wine gravy and then served over something, either noodles, or potatoes, or even rice, as my mom served it. In this version, I seared the steaks, made a delicious sauce and served it with mashed potatoes. This recipe has the advantage of allowing you to serve the steaks RARE, which is the way I really enjoy them. It was a winner! I wrote this recipe for 2, since only my husband and I were at home, but you could easily double it. Using a whole steak per person made it seem like more of a celebratory meal unlike a stew, which while delicious isn't the most elegant meal. This meal has the added bonus of one that is very easily made in advance. You only have to heat the sauce and finish cooking the steaks at meal time.
Deconstructed Boef Bourguignon with Mashed Potatoes

Deconstructed Boef Bourguignon
For 2

2 1" thick pieces of beef tenderloin
2 rashers of bacon
2 T. butter, divided use
1 c. dry red wine
1/2 cup beef broth, stock or consomme' 
1 tsp. minced fresh garlic
6 - 8 baby carrots, thinly sliced
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 T. tomato paste
12 oz. cremini mushrooms (baby portobellos)
12 pearl onions (frozen is fine, that's what I used)
Kosher Salt and Fresh Ground Black Pepper
Mashed potatoes, baked potatoes or egg noodles for serving

First and very importantly, dry your steaks by draining them on a paper towel. They won't brown properly unless you do this. I know that the picture is kind of gross, but this is a very important step. 
Dry those steaks! 
While the steak is drying, mince the garlic and clean the mushrooms. Cut them in half or quarters if they are very large. Dry them as well, draining on a paper towel. This is important for the same reason as the beef, they need to be dry to cook properly. NEVER argue with Julia. 

Heat a medium sized frying pan over low heat. Choose a pan at least 3" deep, with a heavy bottom, so that the steaks will brown evenly and not stick. Add the two rashers of bacon and fry them until crisp. 

Remove the bacon to drain on yet another paper towel. Pour off almost all the bacon grease from the pan, leaving just enough to keep the steak from sticking. Turn the heat up to medium and add the steaks. Cook the steaks about 2 minutes per side, turning once. you only want to sear them. 
Sear steaks briefly, only a minute or 2 to brown them.
After searing put the steaks aside on a plate, and add 1 T. butter to the skillet. Scrape up all the browned bits in the bottom. Don't let the butter burn! Add the garlic and sliced carrots to the pan, and keep stirring and scraping for a minute or so. Add the red wine and keep on scraping and stirring. Let it come to a boil and then add the beef broth. Drop the thyme and tomato paste into the sauce. Sprinkle in 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt and a few grindings of fresh black pepper. 
Fresh time and tomato paste going into the sauce. 
Bring this to a boil, cover the pan, turn it down to low heat and let the sauce cook for 20 - 30 minutes, stirring every now and again to make sure nothing is sticking. This will smell heavenly and make everyone in the hungry. While the sauce is cooking, melt 1 T. butter over medium heat, in a small non-stick skillet. When the butter is melted and the foam has subsided (wait for the foam part, or Julia will haunt you), and then add the mushrooms. Cook the mushrooms until they are lightly browned, stirring them to make sure each surface area is browned. Turn them off while waiting for the sauce to finish cooking. When the carrots are tender, add the mushrooms, crumbled bacon and the pearl onions to the sauce.
We love mushrooms! The pearl onions make it seem special. 

Doesn't that look good? Cover that pan once again, and let the flavors come together, cooking for at least 10 minutes. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning, adding a little more salt and pepper as needed. Be careful here, you may not need any more (I didn't). It depends on how salty your beef broth is, how strong the wine flavor is and how much liquid the mushrooms give off. TASTE! Don't just add. You can remove the thyme stems if they are still whole and visible. The leaves will just fall off. 
At this point, you can refrigerate everything (Separately! Don't put the steak in the sauce until you are ready to reheat it!) and heat everything up later in the day, or even the next day. When you are ready to eat, get the sauce hot again, and add the steaks into it. Cover and let them cook for 4 - 5 minutes for rare steaks, 6 -7 minutes for medium. If you like your meat well done, don't bother with tenderloin, just follow the first, original recipe. No need to spend the extra money on good steaks! 

Serve along side mashed potatoes (our choice) or over baked potatoes or egg noodles. 

I promise, this was YUMMY!

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