Boeuf Bourguignon

mmm boeuf bourguignon…. I could’t resist making this last week. When I found out it was Julia Childs birthday and stumbled onto this clip  of Julia Child cooking it I just had to make it! I had a ball making it, its was my lazy saturday and so I spent the majority of the day cooking (and whacking the fire alarm off!). It was quite hilarious at times as the beef bourguignon kept setting off the fire alarm -even though it wasn’t burning,  and the fire alarm system connects to the block I’m in so there’s no battery I can take out. In the end I literally had a chair, fan and broomstick poised ready for every time it went off! Anyway I’m writing this up while I bake a three layered cake, cookies and pudding and I am so freakishly sore! I’m definitely not an athletic person, actually i think I’m closer to a sloth then anything…anyway for some strange reason I agreed to play badminton and basketball this morning – and not only do I suck at the game, but now I get to feel the delightful soreness from running up and down the court for two hours! I honestly have no more energy left so instead I’m posting this hopefully my battery doesn’t die because the power cord is upstairs and nooooo stairs please!

…………………………………3 hours later……………………….

Ok so the battery died and it kinda took me a while to convince myself to tackle the stairs! I better post this now before I start complaining again, anyway don’t be deterred by the recipe length, it’s really not that difficult, and once you coordinate making the mushrooms and onions during cooking the stew it won’t feel like you wasted any time at all! So anyway enjoy 🙂

Ingredients:

for the stew

  • 180g bacon, solid chunk (or if its not available, then around 3 rashes of bacon)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1.5kg lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes (Preferably use chuck,if not then gravy beef)
  • 1 carrot, peeled and sliced
  • 1 onion, peeled and sliced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground
  • 2 tablespoons flour 3 cups red wine (a full bodied wine like Bordeaux or Burgundy or Chianti)
  • 2 -3 cups beef stock (if you buy it make sure you use the salt reduced)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely cut
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 bay leaf,

For the braised onions

  • 18 -24 white pearl onions, peeled (AKA pickling onions!)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup beef stock salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 2 sprigs parsley

for the sautéed mushrooms

  • 500g mushroom, quartered
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Method:

For the stew (the first half anyway!)

  1.  First prepare the bacon: cut off the rind and reserve.
  2. Cut the bacon into lardons about 0.5cm thick and 3.75cm long.
  3. Simmer the rind and the lardons for ten minutes in 1 1/2 litres of water.
  4. Drain and dry the lardons and rind and reserve.
  5. Pre-heat the oven to 230 degrees celsius. Put the tablespoon of olive oil in a large fireproof casserole dish and warm over moderate heat.
  6. Saute the lardons for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly, Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon.
  7. Dry off the pieces of beef and saute them, a few at a time in the hot oil/bacon fat until nicely browned on all sides.  Once browned, remove to the side plate with the bacon.
  8. 11 In the same oil/fat, saute the onion and the carrot until softened.
  9. 12 Pour off the fat and return the lardons and the beef to the casserole with the carrots and onion. Toss the contents of the casserole with the salt and pepper and sprinkle with the flour.
  10. Set the uncovered casserole in the oven for four minutes.
  11. Toss the contents of the casserole again and return to the hot oven for 4 more minutes.  Now, lower the heat to 160 degrees celcius and remove the casserole from the oven.
  12. Add the wine and enough stock so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic and herbs and the bacon rind.
  13. Bring to a simmer on the top of the stove. Cover and place in the oven, adjusting the heat so that the liquid simmers very slowly for three to four hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.

For the onions 

You should have more than enough time to prepare the mushrooms and onions while the stew is cooking

  1. Peel the onions, make sure they are intact when you peel them – if the skin is being difficult quickly dip the onions into boiling water for 10-30 seconds and the skin should peel off nicely, don’t forget to cut a cross it the root end.
  2. Heat the butter and oil in a large skillet and add the onions to the skillet.
  3. Saute over medium heat for about ten minutes, rolling the onions about so they brown as evenly as possible, without breaking apart.
  4. Pour in the stock, season to taste, add the herbs, and cover. Simmer over low heat for about 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but retain their shape and the liquid has mostly evaporated. Remove the herbs and set the onions aside.

For the mushrooms

  1. Add the oil to the pan, when hot add the butter and let it completely melt (but not dry burn!) This occurs when the foam begins to subside and go down
  2. Add the mushrooms and toss and shake the pan for about five minutes or until the mushrooms have slightly browned, remove from heat. 32

To finish the stew

  1. When the meat is tender, remove the casserole from the oven and empty its contents into a sieve set over a saucepan.
  2. Wash out the casserole dish and return the beef and bacon to it
  3. Distribute the mushrooms and onions over the meat.
  4. Skim the fat off the sauce and simmer it for a minute or two, skimming off any additional fat which rises to the surface. You should be left with about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If the sauce is too thick, add a few tablespoons of stock, if the sauce is too thin, boil it down to reduce to the right consistency.
  5. Taste for seasoning, (this is essential!!)
  6. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables.
  7. If you are serving immediately, place the covered casserole over medium low heat and simmer 2 to 3 minutes. Serve with rice or potatoes (preferably Robuchon style mashed potatoes!- I would have made it for this recipe but I didn’t have a drum sieve 😦 ), and garnish with parsley (I used continental because that was all that I had but feel free to use common parsley- the flavour is subtler so it should match the dish better)
  8.  If serving later or the next day, allow the casserole to cool and place cold, covered casserole in the refrigerator.  20 minutes prior to serving, place over medium low heat and simmer very slowly for ten minutes, occasionally basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce.

Enjoy!

Vanilla Creme Brûlée

I finally got my wish and am now in possession of my very own Chef’s blowtorch!!! Yay! I’ve been nagging for a while but my accident prone status kind of stopped  me from acquiring one. I figure what better way to celebrate than to make creme brûlée. The delicious custard and caramelised sugar at the top is perfect for a wintery day like today. I even decided to top it off with a three course meal for the fam, with a walnut, salmon and avocado salad entree, and fettuccine carbonara mains.

…5 hours later….

……….ok I might have been a tad bit too ambitious, unfortunately the blow torch was a bit difficult to light, by the time I did finally figure it out and get it to work I had unknowingly managed to drip butane into one of the creme brûlées. Poor dad, my first shot at making creme brûlée with a blow torch and I nearly end up poisoning him 😦 I should have just stuck with the grill! Anyway I tried it again the next day and it worked like a charm, dad was even game enough to try it again- though he did take a very small first bite! So here it is in all its glory 😛

Prep time: 15 mins

Cooking time: 45-60 mins depending on your oven and ramekin size

Waiting time: 4 hours (at least!) (it’s honestly best to do it overnight)

Ingredients

  • 300ml thickened cream (I actually use a lactose free cream as I’m lactose intolerant, and it also works really well)
  • 200ml milk
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 100g egg yolks (approx 5 egg yolks)
  • 70g caster sugar
  • 30g caster sugar (for the top)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 130 degrees Celsius
  2. mix the vanilla pod(scraped and add the beans) the cream and milk over a medium flame and allow to simmer but not boil. Remove from heat and leave for 5 mins, and strain to remove the pods. If there is a thin film on top ,scrape of with a spoon.
  3. in a separate bowl add the egg yolks and caster sugar and whisk together immediately (or it will curdle).
  4. Add the creme mixture to the yolk mixture, while concurrently beating. Remove the bubbles created by whisking with a spoon.
  5. Pour into 4 ramekins so that each ramekin is 3/4 full
  6. Cook bain marie (i.e. place ramekins in a tray and fill with boiling water so each ramekin is 3/4 covered) for 60 mins or until set, to check if it is set remove from tray and tilt side to side, if it does not jiggle then it is done.
  7. Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature. Then place in fridge and refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours and up to 24 hours.
  8. when about to eat remove from oven and add a very fine layer of caster sugar, use the blow torch to caramelise. If you do not have one place under the grill until caramelised. mmmenjoy!