Braised Beef with Red Wine (Boeuf Bourguignon)

The primary techniques for Bouchon’s beef bourguignon are those of refinement—removing the impurities at every opportunity. One of our practical rules of refinement is to separate all the ingredients. Make a bed of the vegetables in the braising vessel, lay down a sheet of cheesecloth, put the stew meat on top of this, then cover the ingredients with stock. When the meat is done, you can lift out the meat and strain the sauce, discarding the vegetables, which have given all their flavor to the sauce and meat. You can further refine the sauce by straining it again and degreasing it again, then returning the meat to the sauce and allowing it to cool in the braising liquid so that it can reabsorb some of the moisture lost during cooking. This is best done several days before finishing and serving the stew.

Recipe from Bouchon by Thomas Keller/Artisan, 2004.

Braised Beef with Red Wine (Boeuf Bourguignon)

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    2 3/4 pounds boneless short ribs (about 1 inch thick) 16 round French baby carrots or other baby carrots (for carrots)
    Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 1 tablespoon kosher salt (for carrots)
    Canola oil 1 teaspoon black peppercorns (for carrots)
    1 cup diced (1/2 inch) yellow onions 4 thyme sprigs (for carrots)
    2/3 cup sliced (1/2 inch) peeled carrots 2 bay leaves (for carrots)
    1 1/2 cups sliced (1/2 inch) leeks, white and light green parts only 2 garlic cloves, skin left on, smashed (for carrots)
    2 garlic cloves, skin left on, smashed 4 slab bacon, cut into 24 lardons about 11/2 inches long and 3/8 inch thick (for bacon and mushrooms)
    3 thyme sprigs 32 small button mushrooms, cleaned (for bacon and mushrooms)
    3 Italian parsley sprigs 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (for bacon and mushrooms)
    2 bay leaves Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper (for bacon and mushrooms)
    about 4 cups veal stock or beef stock 12 red pearl onions (for pearl onions)
    8 ounces fingerling potatoes, preferably small (for potatoes) 12 white pearl onions (for pearl onions)
    1 tablespoons kosher salt (for potatoes) 2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley (to finish)
    1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns (for potatoes) Fleur de sel (to finish)
    2 thyme sprigs (for potatoes) Dijon mustard (to finish)
    1 bay leaf (for potatoes) Red Wine Reduction
    2 garlic cloves, skin left on, smashed (for potatoes)


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    • 1

      MAKE RED WINE REDUCTION: Combine all the ingredients in a large heavy ovenproof pot with a lid that will hold the meat in a single, or no more than a double, layer. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the wine has reduced to a glaze.

    • 2

      FOR THE BEEF: Trim away excess fat and any silver skin from the short ribs. Cut the meat into pieces approximately 11/2 to 2 inches by 1 inch thick.

    • 3

      Line a baking sheet with paper towels. Season all sides of the meat with salt and pepper. Heat 1/8 inch of canola oil in a large sauté pan over high heat. When the oil is hot, add only as many pieces of meat as will fit comfortably in a single layer; do not crowd the pan or the meat will steam rather than brown. Once the meat has browned on the first side, turn it and continue to brown the meat on all sides, about 5 minutes total. Transfer the meat to the paper towel–lined baking sheet. Brown the remaining meat in batches, adding more oil to the pan as necessary.

    • 4

      Preheat the oven to 350°F.

    • 5

      Add the onions, carrots, leeks, garlic, thyme, parsley, and bay leaves to the reduction and toss together. Cut a piece of cheesecloth that is about 4 inches larger than the diameter of the pot. Wet the cheesecloth and wring dry. Place the cloth over the vegetables and fold over the edges to form a “nest” for the meat. (The cheesecloth will allow the liquid to flavor and cook the meat but prevent bits of vegetable and herbs from clinging to it.) Place the short ribs on the cheesecloth and add enough stock to come just to the top of the meat.

    • 6

      It is important that the liquid doesn’t evaporate too quickly. If the pot does not have a tight-fitting lid, cut a parchment lid. Bring the liquid to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cover the meat with the parchment lid, if using, then cover the pot with the lid. Place in the oven and reduce the heat to 325°F. Braise the beef for 11/2 to 2 hours, or until the meat is very tender.

    • 7

      Transfer the meat to an ovenproof pot or container. Remove and discard the cheesecloth. Strain the braising liquid twice through a fine strainer or a medium strainer lined with a clean dampened tea towel or cheesecloth, straining it the second time into a saucepan. Discard the vegetables. Bring the liquid to a boil, spooning off the fat as it rises to the top. Strain the liquid over the beef. Let it cool, then cover and refrigerate for at least 1 day, or up to 3 days.

    • 8

      FOR THE GARNISHES: Preheat the oven to 375°F.

    • 9

      If the potatoes are large, cut them into 1/2-inch-thick slices. If they are small (less than 1 ounce each), leave them whole. Place in a large saucepan, along with the salt, peppercorns, thyme, bay leaf, and garlic and add cold water to cover the potatoes by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Drain the potatoes and transfer to a plate. Discard the seasonings. Once they are cool, slice whole potatoes lengthwise in half. Set aside.

    • 10

      Peel the carrots and trim the tops, leaving 1/4 inch attached. With a paring knife, scrape the tops of the carrots to remove any skin that remains. Cut the carrots lengthwise in half. Place in a saucepan, add the salt, peppercorns, thyme, bay leaves, and garlic and cover with about 11/2 inches of water. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the carrots for 4 to 5 minutes, or until tender. Drain the carrots and transfer to a plate to cool. Discard the seasonings.

    • 11

      Spread the lardons in a single layer in a nonstick baking pan and place in the oven. After about 10 minutes, stir the lardons and return to the oven for another 5 to 10 minutes, or until they are richly browned. Remove from the oven and drain on paper towels.

    • 12

      Trim away the mushroom stems flush with the caps. Heat the butter in a large skillet over high heat until it has melted and the foam has subsided. Add the mushrooms, reduce the heat to medium low, season with salt and pepper to taste, and cook gently, tossing often, until the mushrooms are lightly browned and tender throughout, 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside.

    • 13

      TO COMPLETE: Preheat the oven to 250°F.

    • 14

      Place the container with the beef in the oven for a few minutes just to liquefy the stock. Remove from the oven and turn the oven up to 400°F. Carefully remove the pieces of beef to a deep ovenproof sauté pan. Strain the liquid over the beef.

    • 15

      Place the pan in the oven and warm the beef for about 5 minutes, basting occasionally with the cooking liquid. Add the potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, and onions and toss gently. Return to the oven for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, or until the vegetables and meat are hot.

    • 16

      Meanwhile, rewarm the lardons in a small skillet.

    • 17

      Remove the sauté pan from the oven and gently toss in the parsley. With a slotted spoon, divide the meat and vegetables among serving plates or bowls. Spoon some of the sauce over each serving. Distribute the lardons among the plates and sprinkle with fleur de sel. Serve with Dijon mustard.

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