Monday, May 14, 2012

Messieurs-Dames: Boeuf Bourguignon!

Julia would not be proud (well perhaps she would of the effort, but certainly not the result), let's explain why...

We actually were quite pleased to see this come up.  Just about every food show you could ever hope to watch / read / participate in will at some time (if they haven't already) whip up a batch of Boeuf based on the 'classic' Julia Child recipe so it seemed logical that we should add it to our one day list.

Shopping was a breeze with all but the wine from one store.  Leaving shopping to the morning of the big day we were unable to locate a Burgundy in either of the two closest options we had so we thought a Pinot Noir out of California would be a fair swap.  We were going to grab up 2 bottles, one for cooking, one for dining but seeing we couldn't find one we went to our 'Cellar' for the dining part, staying in France with a Côtes du Rhône.

Boeuf Bourguignon

OK, off we go... Boil the bacon (officially simmer, but...) which is something new to us. Done, but not exactly sure why. We went with removing some of the fat, but didn't see all that much left behind. No harm done, we did as asked.

The next few steps are about getting the beef browned off. Nothing complicated, and with a bit of team work it all went pretty quickly. Then in go the vegetables, that was easy. Get the meat back in and sprinkle with flour. OK, the goal was not to sprinkle, but we got the flour incorporated with everything looking as we expected.

We just want the record to show that we noted the 30ml variance in our bottle of wine v the amount required by the recipe and yes, we did drink the variance. We appreciate this thoughtful planning by the recipe builder, but we had to go a bit less in the pot because working as a team we neededwanted 30ml each - actually it's never hard to go way past 30ml. We're just say'n...

With glass in hand, a whole bunch of other stuff goes in the pot and this is where things probably started to go wrong. First we used all the beef stock, not realizing we needed some a few steps (and a couple of hours) later to keep the onions (did you know it feels like it takes 20 to 25 minutes to peel each pearl type onion? - pesky things. But they were worth the effort!) company, but this boo-boo may have made things less bad in the end. It's kind of fun to tip a whole(ish) bottle of wine into a pot and after a firm stir our pot looked more or less the same as the picture provided. Great. Lid on, oven, here we come...

Obviously, it's us doing the cooking so fingers should be pointed our way, but we're pointing a finger back at the recipe for not giving us a temperature to reduce the oven to. Our choice of temperature only avoided a complete inedible result because we went with the lesser option of 3 hours (we started a bit late and knew we'd be hungry...) rather than the 4 and used up all the beef stock as noted above. After an hour the house really started to smell nice and we didn't even think twice about what was going on, even when we returned to the kitchen to do the onions (we used Vegetable Stock in lieu of Beef thanks to the Pantry) and mushrooms - both of which we were very pleased with how they turned out. So, with the chirping of the timer our excitement to finish the dish didn't last long. Our juice was all but gone, things were sticking to the pot on all sides and not just the bottom, and there was a crustiness to almost everything that was probably only minutes away from being classified as burnt.

It still smelled great, so we added in the mushrooms and onions - keep going, or order out - gave it a stir in which just about every piece of meat broke up as we 'released' it from the grip of the pot. As we were pulling out the bay leaf, we also did a quick hunt for the bacon rinds and removed them too, even though the recipe was silent on what to do with them. We think removing was better?

We were now done, as we had no juice to worry about skimming for unwanted fat. At least we got to eat (and drink!) a little sooner...
Clearly a pot of well done meat not cooked to its proper best. As the juice departed, more and more of the meat would have been left high and dry and therefore roasting, rather than braising. We're pretty sure this was the reason for a good deal of stringiness.

We got great flavors, we think, but nothing we'd be all that excited about serving up to friends. Our wine selection worked out just fine with what we ended up with, but probably would have been better with a better final result.

Recipes & Destructions Instructions


Tasty, no doubt. Ugly, even less doubt. Missing the sauce, completely. Oh well...

We'd give it another go, perhaps doing the whole thing on the stove where we're more inclined to peek in at what's going on rather than being surprised at the end. We're glad and sad we opened up our bottle from Côtes du Rhône as we really enjoyed the wine, but know we didn't pair it up with something to get the best out of it.

Sorry Julia!

Oh, and it didn't re-heat for lunch very well at all.  Which of course is almost certainly a byproduct of all noted above.


Our May 2012 Daring Cooks’ hostess was Fabi of fabsfood. Fabi challenged us to make Boeuf Bourguignon, a classic French stew originating from the Burgundy region of France.