Imelda Marcos had a shoe fetish. For me it's cookbooks. The most tattered tomes in my ever-expanding culinary library are the original Silver Palate series written by Julee Rosso and the late Sheila Lukins. With unerring reliability, every recipe I've made from their cookbooks have been a great success. Favourites over the years include Chicken Marbella, Salade Niçoise, Dilled Blanquette de Veau, Pasta Puttanesca, and one of the ultimate comfort foods, their meltingly tender Beef Bourguignon. Less of a stew and more of a main event, classic Boeuf à la Bourguignonne is well marbled beef chuck braised in red wine, traditionally red Burgundy, and flavoured with bacon, onions, tomato paste, herbs and spices, which are reduced to create a densely flavoured, dark and silky sauce. Parboiled pearl onions, carrots and sautéed mushrooms are added towards the end of cooking, for a dish Julia Child called "one of the most delicious beef dishes concocted by mankind."
Smoked side bacon chopped into a small dice
The bacon is sautéed until crisp then drained on paper towel
Beef chuck cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
The beef is then sautéed until browned on all sides
1 cup of diced onion
The chopped onions, salt, pepper and flour are added to the beef and cooked over high heat for 5 minutes
Red wine, beef stock, tomato paste, fresh rosemary and the reserved bacon are added to the beef, brought to a boil, then transferred to a 325°F oven for 2 hours
Meanwhile the pearl onions are trimmed, blanched then rinsed under cold water
The pearl onions are then peeled and set aside
The crimini mushrooms are cleaned, timed then sliced or quartered, depending on their size
The mushrooms are sautéed in a little butter for 10 minutes then set aside also
Parboiled carrots, pearl onions, sautéed mushrooms and red currant jelly are added to the cooked beef and heated through for another 10 minutes, then served garnished with chopped parsley
Recipe adapted from The Silver Palate New Basics Cookbook
8 oz thick sliced smoked side bacon, cut into small dice
3 lb well-trimmed boneless beef chuck, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup chopped onions
salt and pepper, to taste
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
3 cups Burgundy wine
3 cups beef stock
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary leaves
3 to 4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch julienne
2 cups white or red pearl onions
8 oz fresh cremini, shiitake or chanterelle mushrooms
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp red currant jelly
2 tbsp chopped Italian parsley
Preheat the oven to 350F. In a flameproof casserole or Dutch oven, sauté the bacon until crisp, then remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
Pour off all but 1 tbsp of the bacon drippings. Over medium-high heat, sauté the beef a few pieces at a time, until browned on all sides. Add the chopped onions to the beef, and sprinkle with salt, pepper and flour. Cook over high heat, stirring constantly for 5 minutes.
Add the wine, stock, tomato paste, reserved bacon and rosemary, and bring to a boil. Cover the casserole and transfer to the oven and bake until the meat is tender, about 2 hours.
Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables: Bring a small pot of water to boil. Drop in the carrots and cook until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water and drain again, then set aside. Make a small X in the root end of each pearl onion. Drop them into boiling water and cook for 5 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water and drain again. Peel and set aside. Slice the mushrooms lengthwise. Melt butter in a skillet, add the mushrooms and sauté over medium heat for 10 minutes, then set aside.
When the meat is cooked, transfer the casserole to a stovetop burner and add the carrots, onions, mushrooms and red currant jelly. Heat through, about 7 minutes. Serve garnished with the chopped parsley.