Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Boeuf Bourgignonne

I've been making this since I was new bride, always to tons of compliments. Back in the Clearwater Inn days, my mom developed this recipe and it became one of my favorites. When I was a new bride, I made this for my third dinner party and have been making it ever since, but not just for guests! (The first dinner party was for my two aunties, and I served ham, fetuccine alfredo, salad, carrots and green beans with homemade bread and fudge pie for dessert. The second dinner party's menu was antipasto, chicken cooked in wine, arabic rice, salad, italian green beans and onions, homemade bread and cannolis from the bakery for dessert.)

Last January, our subdeacon was ordained to the diaconate, and our parish decided to host a formal banquet. I ended up making Boeuf bourgignonne for 90 people! The recipe was horrifyingly huge: three nesco ovens and 35 lbs of beef! But everyone raved about it, so I was happy.

Boeuf Bourgignonne

4 slices bacon, cut into half-inch squares
1/2 lb mushrooms
2 tsp salt
1/3 C flour
1 tsp dried thyme
1 1/2 C Burgundy wine
12 small whole white onions
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
3 1/2 lbs beef chuck, all fat and sinew removed and cut in 1 inch cubes
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp black pepper
4 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
1 lb carrots, minced
10 oz frozen peas (optional)

In a large frying pan, fry bacon until crisp; remove and set aside. Saute the beef in the bacon drippings until seared and browned on all sides. Put beef in the crockpot and to it, add the garlic, salt and pepper. Sprinkle the flour over all and stir to blend. Put cloves, thyme and bay leaf in a cheesecloth packet and add to the crock pot. Add wine, parsley, bacon, carrots and pearl onions to the crockpot and stir well. In the frypan, adding more oil if necessary, saute the mushrooms until wilted, then add to the crockpot, stirring them in. Cover the crockpot and cook on low 8 - 9 hours. Taste for salt and pepper, and check tenderness of beef. Add in the peas if using and let steam in the crockpot with the beef for another 10 minutes. Remove spice packet and serve.

Serve over wide egg noodles, mashed potatoes, rice, or even alone! The addition of salad makes this a complete meal.

Serves 8

Five stars!

Notes: My 5 qt crockpot has a removable metal pan which can be used on top of the stove, so I do all the sauteeing in that - saves on clean up. I never have cheesecloth when I need to make a bouquet garni, so I usually use an egg-shaped metal tea ball instead. This is really a fool proof recipe - I have made it exactly like this many, many times.

To cook in bulk, like I did last January, I used three 18 qt Nesco cookers set at the lowest temperature (I think it was 200F) for 5 hours, stirring occasionally. The cookers worked perfectly, and the experience reminded me that I could easily make this in the oven as well.

Pressure Cooker: Cook at 15 lbs pressure for 20 minutes, leaving out the mushrooms and peas, and adding them right before serving.

Stove Top: Use a heavyweight pan with a tight cover, like a dutch oven. Bring to a low simmer and cook, covered, for three hours, stirring occasionally.

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