OK, so it’s been a while. The summer was long and hot, which was not conducive to cooking much of anything, let alone writing about it.
Now as readers of this blog know, I like me some braised meats. Unfortunately the summer is not really the best time to enjoy some slow-cooked beef products, not to mention the fact that cooking something all afternoon in a 95 degree apartment seems like the least appealing thing EVER. However, fall is here, which means the glorious return of the slow-cooker.
I was so excited by this prospect that I broke out one of the more long recipes that I have done with the slow-cooker – boeuf bourguignon. The thing is, there’s nothing particularly difficult about boeuf bourguignon, especially if you use a slow-cooker. It really is just beef stew with red wine after all. It’s just that it takes a LONG time. Like, two days long.
Because I like my slow-cooker and it’s been so lonely all summer I adapted this recipe from a couple that I found online and in cookbooks I have. I’m not sure how authentic it is, but you end up with a silky rich sauce over beef that’s pretty much just falling apart. That, in the end, is *my* goal at least with this sort of cooking. So, the next time you have a free weekend, try this out!
Here’s what you’ll need for boeuf bourguignon in a slow cooker. Note that you need to start things the night before you actually want to eat it; so plan accordingly.
|3lbs chuck roast cut into 2″ pieces||$16.47|
|1 bottle red wine||$12.00|
|1-2 large onions, diced||$1.42|
|2-3 carrots, diced||$0.79|
|1/2 lb pearl onions||$2.99|
|1/2 lb mushrooms||$1.99|
|6 oz slab bacon||$3.49|
|1 tablespoon tomato paste||$0.99|
|6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped||$0.87|
|2 cups beef stock||$4.99|
|1 bay leaf||$0.89|
|few sprigs of parsley||$0.99|
|1 celery stalk||$2.49|
Total: $52.75 for 6-8 servings or $8.72 a serving.
The day before you want to have the beef, you’ll want to start the process by marinating it. In a large bowl or plastic container combine the beef, the carrots, and the onions. Pour enough wine over it to cover the meat, then pop it in the fridge over night. It should look something like this:
That’s all you *have* to do the night before. However, because I had fancy brunch plans the next day, I made things easier for myself by prepping the pearl onions, the mushrooms and the bacon. Feel free to do whatever.
For the onions:
If you’ve never dealt with pearl onions, brace yourself. They’re delicious, delicious, royal pains in the ass and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying or delusional. You can buy them peeled and frozen, but I don’t trust that so I buy them fresh. The best way to peel them is to chop off the bottoms and use a paring knife to put a big X on the bottom. It should look something like this.
Now blanch them in some boiling water for about 30 seconds to a minute.
Don’t they look pretty? Drain them and rinse with cold, cold water for a few minutes until they’re cold. Now you *should* be able to squeeze the onions off and have the inside pop out of the skins and the first layer or so of the onion. That’s the theory. I’m sure that wicked awesome chefs pop those things out like it’s their jobs (which it is) but frankly, my average is about 60%. Sometimes they slide right out, sometimes they just don’t. Oh well, at the end you’ll have a nice pile of onions that look like this:
Pop those in the fridge.
Chop the mushrooms up and put them in the fridge as well. Finally, chop up the bacon. You want them to look like this:
You want them about 1/4″ by 1/4″ and lengthwise across the piece. If there’s a rind (skin) on the bacon you should cut that off and keep it for the stew. That’s about it for day one.
The next morning, it’s time to brown everything. Start with the bacon. Pop it in a big skillet and heat it over medium heat to render out some of the fat. This will smell delicious – try to restrain yourself from eating every bit of the bacon as it comes out.
Add the bacon pieces to the slow-cooker and leave about 1 tablespoon of fat in the skillet. Separate the beef from the marinade and add the beef to the pan in small batches, browning the pieces all over.
Once that’s done, put the beef in the slow-cooker. Then you want to brown the onions and mushrooms. Drain off all but a tablespoon of the grease in the pan and then brown the onions and mushrooms separately, and each should take about 5-7 minutes. Once browned, put them back in the fridge.
Strain the carrots out of the marinade and add them to the slowcooker. Add the tomato paste and garlic to the frying pan, then add the marinade and deglaze the pan. Dump this in the slow cooker on top of everything else along with the bay leaf, celery, and parsley. Get that bad boy going on “low” and let things simmer for 8-10 hours.
By the time the day goes by things should be smelling amazing. To finish things off, pull the meat out of the simmering liquid. It should basically be falling apart. Strain the liquid and throw out all the vegetable and bacon mush. Put the meat in a warm oven or back in the slowcooker on “warm” to keep it from getting cold. Put the liquid on the stove in a big saucepan and start to reduce it, with the onions and mushrooms. Let it reduce down until it’s thick and coats the back of a spoon. Once it’s reduced taste it and if it needs salt and pepper, go for it. Spoon the sauce, onions and mushrooms over some meat, add some chopped parsley and enjoy!