Sunday, May 8, 2011
It's been a somewhat dismal spring thus far here in New York, with an endless parade of gloomy weather fronts marching into town and parking themselves squarely overhead. The occasional snowy morning a few weeks ago and far too frequent rainy afternoon in recent days led to a monumental purchase for my kitchen, in the form of a brand-new, fire engine-red Le Creuset Dutch oven. I was immediately clear on how to christen my new purchase and quell my gray-weather anxiety. I'd make a boeuf bourguignon, classic in every way, even the long cooking time.
While I normally eschew anything that keeps me from my television for too long, I took advantage of the odd day off to make a long cooking stew with hearty flavor and a decidedly French flair. Momentarily transporting myself from the Upper East Side to Paris, I spent the morning walking through the neighborhood in my classic trench, making stops at the butcher, the baker and the specialty grocer (if I'd seen a candlestick maker I'd probably have paid them a visit for good measure). The great thing about this dish is that despite the long cooking time, once you're done chopping, you're pretty much done. The rest of the time is just letting it bubble away on the stove—or, if you're feeling like all that chopping requires a post cooking nap—in the oven.
I did a lot of research before making this dish on exactly what cut of meat to use since most recipes only went so far as to say "a beef roast" or a "rump roast" and I know nothing about either. It turns out that a chuck-eye roast is the best for a beef stew according to America's Test Kitchen, and after making this dish I'm inclined to agree that it has the perfect balance of meat to fat to keep the meat moist without making the dish too fatty. But, if you're making this dish on a day that's not quite as gloriously lazy as mine was, you can always use blade steaks, which are usually right in the meat section of the grocery store. They're also thinner and would cook a little bit faster than the thick chunks of a roast would. So, whether you're feeling lazy in a truly European way and have all the time in the world, or just happen to have an extra hour to make dinner special, give this recipe a try. I promise it'll satisfy no matter how much time you have.
2 tbsps olive oil
2 cups crimini mushrooms, large ones quartered or halved
3½ lbs chuck-eye roast, cut into 1½ inch chunks
5 bacon strips, cut into ½ inch pieces
2 tbsps tomato paste
2 tbsps all-purpose flour
1 bottle medium-bodied red wine (Côtes du Rhône or Pinot Noir are perfect)
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 bay leaves
2 garlic cloves, smashed
4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 lb miniature red bliss potatoes, larger ones halved
2 cups pearl onions (I used fresh, but thawed, frozen ones added at the end are fine)
1 tbsp unsalted butter
Fresh parsley for garnish
1. Cook bacon in a large Dutch oven until crispy. Remove to a paper towel lined plate and add mushrooms to pot, cooking in rendered bacon fat until browned, about 8 minutes. Remove mushrooms to the plate with the bacon and set aside.
2. Season beef generously with salt and pepper and add two tablespoons of olive oil to the pot. Brown beef (in batches, if necessary) until browned on all sides. Transfer meat to a plate and set aside. Pour off all but two tablespoons of the oil remaining in the pot. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly until slightly darkened in color, 2-3 minutes. Add flour and cook, continuing to stir for about 1 minute.
3. Return beef and bacon to the pot, along with wine, broth, bay leaves and garlic. Bring to a boil and cover, lowering heat to bring mixture to a simmer. Cook for 2 hours on the stove top or in the oven (at 350°F) until meat is almost completely tender, then add onions, carrots and potatoes and cook another 45 minutes further until potatoes and carrots are cooked through. Add mushrooms and cook until just heated through. Stir in butter and parsley and serve. Enjoy!