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Monday, September 10, 2012

It's A First... Of the Season

There's a (slight) snap in the air.  The sky is (unusually) blue, and I'm feeling the fall coming on.

Yes, fall is coming and it's time to start anew.

I've always been a big fan of fall.  This is a somewhat bittersweet fall for me though.  You see, both of my kids are seniors this year.  Charlie is a senior in college and Kate is a senior in high school.  How did this happen?  I'm not any older so how is it possible that they are?

I realized as I sent Charlie off to Carleton and Kate off to high school, that this was pretty much the end of an era for me.  No longer was I going to be making an annual late August pilgrimage to Staples for school supplies.  No longer would I be making lunch, (not that I've actually made a lunch in the last four years, but its the idea of never packing another lunch that gets me).

I need to find something new to do with my time.

Maybe I should write the next great American novel.

Or maybe I should focus on doing something that's actually a little more attainable.  Like getting a job. Or organizing all my recipes.

It's almost too much to consider.  So I won't.

In honor of the fall coming, I decided to try this Tyler Florence recipe for Beef Bourguignon.  It somehow seemed appropriate to try something new.  I'm going to be doing a lot of that come next fall.

Recipe:  Beef Bourguignon
(Tyler Florence)


Canola oil
4 bacon slices
31/2 to 4 pounds beef chuck or round, cut in 2 3 2-inch cubes
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup Cognac
1 bottle dry red wine, such as Burgundy
1 (141/2-ounce) can low-sodium beef broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Bouquet garni (1 fresh rosemary sprig, 8 fresh thyme sprigs, 2 bay leaves,  tied together with a strip of leek)
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 cups pearl onions, blanched and peeled
1 pound white mushrooms, stems trimmed
Pinch of sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped, for garnish


Place a large Dutch oven over medium heat; drizzle with a 1/2-count of oil. Fry the bacon until crisp and then remove it to a paper towel; you’ll crumble it at the end and use it for garnish. Add the beef to the pot in batches. Fry the cubes in the bacon fat until evenly browned on all sides; turn with tongs. Season with salt and pepper. (Don’t skimp on this step—it’s key.)

After the meat is browned, put it all back in the pot. Sprinkle the flour over the meat; then stir to make sure the beef is well coated and there are no flour lumps. Pour in the Cognac and stir to scrape up the flavorful bits in the bottom of the pan. Cook and stir to evaporate the alcohol. Pour in the red wine and beef broth; then add the tomato paste and bouquet garni. Stir everything together and bring the pot up to a simmer. Cook until the liquid starts to thicken and has the consistency of a sauce; this should take about 15 minutes. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 1 hour.

Uncover the pot and add the garlic, pearl onions, and mushrooms, along with the pinch of sugar to balance out the acid from the red wine. Season with salt and pepper. Turn the heat up slightly and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes longer, until the vegetables and meat are tender. Remove the bouquet garni and then stir in the butter to finish up the sauce. Shower with chopped parsley and the reserved crumbled bacon before serving. Deep and rich flavor!

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