Hybrid Vigour

The food: Roasted Vegetables with Boeuf Bourguignon Sauce

The story:

I’ve been meaning to try Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon recipe since I saw it lovingly recreated in the movie Julie and Julia. Last week, inspired by the cold winter weather, I finally did.

I had read that the recipe is more complicated than it needs to be because it is based on restaurant cooking techniques rather than home cooking ones, and when I followed it with some degree of faithfulness – I reduced the quantities and left out the bacon and garlic, but employed Child’s methods – some of the steps did seem unnecessary, so I left them out of my adaptation of the recipe, below.

But my biggest beef (sorry, I couldn’t resist) was that the recipe did not call for any vegetables in the stew beyond the sliced carrots and onions that acted as aromatics in the sauce, and the mushrooms and pearl onions that are meant to be cooked separately. My idea of a great beef stew consists of a ratio of root vegetables to beef of about 4:1, served over rice (mmm, multiple starches), all topped with the deep, dark concentrated sauce. My brainwave for how to achieve that this time around? I’d roast all my favorite vegetables, then pour the boeuf bourguignon over – in effect, I’d make Roast Vegetables with Boeuf Bourguignon Sauce.

I went a little overboard with my selection of vegetables – to organic baby carrots and turnips that I picked up at the Wychwood Farmers’ Market, I added pearl onions, Portobello mushroom chunks, Yukon Gold potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, and fennel from the supermarket. But when I placed a selection of the roast vegetables over some steamed rice and poured a ladleful of the boeuf bourguignon over top, I feasted on the best beef stew I’ve ever eaten.

If you feel like buying a bunch of different vegetables and devoting 4+ hours to following the recipe, you can feast too.

Roasted Vegetables with Boeuf Bourguignon Sauce Recipe
(adapted from Julia Child’s recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking)

Ingredients for Sauce:

1 lb. stew beef
2 – 3 T. olive oil
1/2 sliced carrot
1/2 sliced cooking onion
salt and pepper
1 T. flour
2 c. red wine
1 1/2 c. canned beef broth
1 T. tomato paste
1 t. dried thyme leaves
Crumbled bay leaf
1 t. dried rosemary

For vegetables:

2-3 T. olive oil
olive oil cooking spray
Assorted vegetables of your choice, choose from the following list, to make about 6-8 cups uncooked (they shrink when cooked):
blanched and peeled pearl onions
butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 2″ chunks
sweet potato, peeled and chopped into 2″ chunks
white turnip, peeled and sliced
whole baby carrots
Yukon Gold potatoes, chopped into 1″ chunks
fennel bulb (stalks, core and fronds removed), halved and sliced thinly
Portobello mushrooms, stems removed, and cut into 1″ chunks

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Dry the stewing beef in paper towels. Saute it in hot oil, a few pieces at a time, in a large oven-proof casserole, until nicely browned on all sides. Remove beef to a dish with a slotted spoon and set aside.
3. In same pan and in same fat, brown sliced carrot and onions.
4. Add beef back to pan. Sprinkle on salt, pepper, and flour and toss to coat.
5. Set casserole, uncovered, in middle position of preheated oven for 8 minutes, tossing after 4 minutes.
6. Remove casserole from oven and turn oven heat down to 325 degrees.
7. Stir in wine, beef broth, tomato paste and herbs. Bring to simmer on top of stove. Then cover the casserole and set in lower third of oven. Cook 2 1/2 to 3 hours at 325 degrees. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.
8. Remove casserole from oven and raise temperature to 425 degrees again. (The oven is getting a good workout the day you make this.)
9. Place vegetables to be roasted into one or two roasting pans that have been sprayed with cooking spray, and drizzle oil over them. Place in oven.
10. Check consistency of boeuf bourguignon sauce. If not as thick as you’d like, remove beef and cooked vegetables with slotted spoon and reserve in bowl, then cook down sauce over medium heat until reduced to a pleasing thickness. Add beef and cooked vegetables back in.
11. Check roasting vegetables at 10-15 minute intervals, turning those that are browned on only one side, and removing any that are done (browned on two sides) to a separate platter. All should be done within 30-40 minutes.
12. When all vegetables are done, arrange an attractive assortment of vegetables in dish (preferably over hot steamed rice), and top with a ladleful or two of heated boeuf bourguignon sauce.

Makes 4 – 6 servings.

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One thought on “Hybrid Vigour

  1. Linda Girard says:

    So glad you agree that Boeuf Bourguignon is a perfect way to enjoy a cold winter meal. I also for the month of January included in my small sampling of recipes, the same dish. You’ve taken a ‘more vegetable’ approach where I remove some onerous steps but the classic still remains. We are of the same mind. I much enjoyed the entry. Please check my blog out at your leisure.

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