What's the big deal about beef, you may say?
Beef is a super big huge deal for me. I haven't eaten it since 1998.
I was in 7th grade when I read an article in a magazine about being a vegetarian. And being the impressionable middle school student I was, I decided to become semi vegetarian and immediately stop eating beef. Eventually I eliminated most other meat......
I have a variety of other reasons for why I do not consume much meat..... And after watching Food Inc. this fall and subsequently reading Skinny Bitch I am even more convinced that it is better for me to not consume much meat. I was even going to try to become vegan this year, but I keep caving in to cheese and butter and creme fraiche..... Plus, it's been easier and cheaper (and I feel healthier) for me to eat other things besides meat. And now that I've been semi-vegetarian for so long, I've lost my taste for meat products.
That being said, reading the books My Life in France (Julia Child) and Julie & Julia (Julie Powell) and seeing the film Julie & Julia inspired me to think about the monumental "Boeuf Bourguignon"
So, I've been thinking..... and thinking..... and thinking..... And I decided to give it a try. "A" came to visit for a couple days this week and we decided to make it together!
If I was going to be consuming beef for the first time in over 10 years, I wanted to make sure I was eating top-quality, organic ingredients. And that the wine was French (it seemed only fitting).
I intended to use Julia Child's recipe from her book "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," but after reading her original recipe and finding this New York Times article, I decided to go with a different version: the recipe from Ginette Mathiot's book “Je Sais Cuisiner” (“I Know How to Cook”). Ginette Mathiot's version was just less complicated and required less ingredients.
Additionally, I decided to make roasted garlic mashed potatoes to go with the Boeuf Bourguignon. Just in case I absolutely hated the bouf bourguignon, at least I had something I knew I would like.
The results? Voila! Boeuf Bourguignon, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Artisan Baguette (made in my bread class) and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.
My verdict? It was pretty good! I liked the sauce and the mushrooms best, especially when mixed with the mashed potatoes or with baguette dipped in them. The beef chunks were surprisingly tender and not as bad as I thought.
In hind sight, I was a bit over zealous in thinking I could go from not eating beef in over 10 years, to suddenly eating large chunk of beef. I probably should have just eaten the broth. I'm never very good at baby steps.... either no steps at all or giant ones. I did get a horrible stomach ache after eating the meal, but I'm still proud of what I did!
Adapted from "I Know How to Cook" by Ginette Mathiot
1 tablespoon oil
3 ounces onions or shallots, chopped
3 1/2 ounces thick-cut bacon, diced
1 1/2 pounds stewing beef, cut into 1 1/2 -inch pieces, patted dry
Scant 1/4 cup flour
1 1/4 cups any type of stock, hot
1 1/4 cups red wine
1 bouquet garni (1 bay leaf, 3 sprigs fresh thyme and 3 sprigs parsley, tied together)
3 1/2 ounces mushrooms, diced
- In a heavy pan over medium heat, heat oil. Add onions and bacon and cook, stirring, until browned. Remove them and set aside; leave fat in pan.
- Add beef and brown on all sides (work in two batches if needed to avoid crowding).
- Sprinkle browned beef with flour, stir until browned and add stock. Stir, scraping bottom of pan, then add reserved bacon and onions, the wine and bouquet garni. Season with pepper.
- Simmer very gently for 2 hours.
- Add mushrooms and cook 30 minutes more. Season with salt and serve. Or, even better, reheat and serve the next day.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings.
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
**Note: These are really more guidelines than anything because I never make mashed potatoes with a recipe.... just dump and pour until it reaches the consistency you like**
Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled & cut into chunks
- Cut the tip off the head of garlic. Drizzle with olive oil and place in aluminum foil. Roast in a 350 degree oven 1 hour, or until the cloves are caramelized and squishy.
- Boil the potatoes in salted water until they are fork tender. Drain and place back into the pot.
- Squish garlic cloves into the potatoes (number of cloves to taste, depending on how much you like garlic) and add a little butter, cream cheese, and sour cream. Mash with a potato masher until you reach the consistency of choice. Add warm milk or stock if you prefer the potatoes less stiff.
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