I was given a bottle of red wine from a co-worker who had recently gotten marriage. The couple had given all the guests a bottle of red wine they bottled and corked at a winery in the Niagara region. Now since I don’t drink and don’t like wine I said I’d taste a small bit and would cook with the rest. I thought to do coq au vin again; but then thought I should try something else. This is when beef bourguigon came into my head. I also remember that scene from Julie & Julia where Julie says “don’t crowd the beef” and I said to myself this is a good recipe and I have never actually made a Julia Child’s recipe before. I started my prep and had everything ready to go and all that was left was to open the wine (queue the ominous music). Since it’s 2016 I made the assumption that this bottle of wine was going to be one of those twist top varieties and I was so wrong; and believe it or not I don’t even own a cork screw. So here’s where my 30 minute struggle to open a bottle of wine begins. I tried to use a knife and cut away at the cork on a slant, no luck. Then I went to my tool box; because I have a full tool box at the ready; but I don’t own a corkscrew. (I’ve never really been a conventional girl here; and have always been the work on my own car and build my own curio stand and solder this or that) hence I grabbed a screw and twisted it into the cork and then grabbed the hammer to pop it out. Still no luck and at this point I thought I was done, until I did the one thing I really didn’t want to do which was to push the cork in. I did this and strained away any cork pieces that may have broken and then pulled out the cork after the fact and retrieved my screw. Lesson learned here and I will be going to the dollar store to get myself a corkscrew as that was not a fun experience for me at all.
Yield/Serving: 8 – 10 servings
Prep Time: 1 hr.
Cook Time: 3 plus hours
Difficulty level is: Medium, very time-consuming and persnickety
From: Slightly altered from Julia Child
• 1 stalk of celery, cut into three pieces
• A bunch of parsley, stems only
• 4 fresh thyme sprigs
• 5 garlic cloves, whole and peeled
• • 4 slices of bacon, fried and crumbled
• 3 pound of stewing beef
• Salt, to taste
• Black pepper, to taste
• 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
• 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more if needed
• 1 bottle of dry red wine
• 1 stick unsalted butter, total use accordingly
• 3 cloves of garlic, whole
• 2 onions, finely chopped
• 4 carrots, cut into ¼ inch slices
• 3 celery, chopped
• 1 pound button mushrooms, quartered if large
• 1 tbsp herbs du provence
• 2 tbsp tomato paste
• Parsley, handful rough chop
1. Using a frying pan, fry bacon, drain, crumble and set aside.
2. Pat dry all beef pieces and season with salt and pepper.
3. Divide flour and beef into four portions. Place batch one into a ziplock bag and coat beef.
4. Place two tablespoons of oil into a heavy bottomed pot and brown beef on all side. Don’t crowd the meat. Once the meats is browned transfer to a bowl and continue with the next batch of beef until all is browned.
5. Pour off any excess oil from the pot if necessary and then pour wine into pot to deglaze for about 1 minute. Ensure to stir and scrape up brown bits and then pour over the beef.
6. Make the bouquet garni and set aside for the moment.
7. In the pot put butter and oil over medium-high heat and put in the garlic, onions, carrots, celery, mushrooms along with the crumbled bacon and sauté until browned.
8. Add in the herbs du provence, tomato paste and parsley and continue to stir.
9. Pour in the wine and the beef along with the bouquet garni and gently simmer partially covered until the meat is tender; about 3 ½ to 4 hours and occasionally stir.
10. When beef bourguignon is ready remove bouquet garni and serve.
• Have kitchen string/twine on hand for bouquet garni
• Serve with baby potatoes or a baguette.
I didn’t add the pearl onions to this recipe as I didn’t really want all of those onions in the dish. I found this recipe to be so persnickety and yes I get the whole “don’t crowd the meat”; but this recipe had a lot going on and was so finicky and Mise en Place. Maybe it’s because I have always found myself to be a more instinctual cook who doesn’t like to follow a recipe in its entirety and yes I even slightly altered a Julia Child’s recipe as sacrilege as that probably is to most; but that’s just who I am. It was still an amazing recipe with its richness the smell the wine aroma and those perfectly chopped vegetables. I can see what all that fuss was about; but in the end this recipe is still way to fussy for me and this isn’t the way I like to cook. I didn’t even have kitchen twine for the bouquet garni and I had to use a cheesecloth that I use for my almond milk. It was really quite an experience to MacGyer my way through some aspects of this recipe. I have always loved MacGyer so in some ways I got to try my hand at working with what I have on hand; but next time I will try this is a slow cooker recipe.