Not your average beef stew..

Boeuf Bourguignon … one of the fanciest sounding dishes in the culinary world.  But what REALLY is boeuf bourguignon?  Let’s explore, shall we?

I had to make a special shopping trip for this one, but then again, when don’t I?  I thought finding the stewing beef was going to be difficult but the moment my eyes began scanning the refrigerated beef section, there it was: LEAN STEWING BEEF.  Perfectly labeled and already cut into 2-inch cubes.  I hardly had to do anything to it at all besides dry it off a little and season it before cooking it.  The bacon was easy enough to find and the veggies were standard enough.  Throw a few can of fat-free, low sodium beef broth into my basket and I was in and out of the grocery store in 15 minutes.  (Obviously I already had the red wine at home!)

So when I got home, I decided to start on the stew right away since the longer it cooks, the better it is – oh how true that statement is.  First, I chopped and cooked the bacon in the large pot I usually boil pasta in.  When it was nice and crispy, I removed it and browned the meat on all sides in the bacon fat.  Now, usually, I HATE TO DO THIS AND THINK ITS GROSS.  Nevertheless, I stuck to the recipe and did as I was instructed.

Next, I let the onions and the garlic sweat together before simmering almost an entire bottle of red wine for 10 minutes to reduce the alcohol.  Add two and a half cans of beef broth, cubed potatoes, 6 oz of tomato paste, a bit of Italian seasoning, a bay leaf and 8 ounces of quartered button mushrooms, bring to a boil and then simmer for about 2 hours.  I then threw in some chopped celery and diced carrots and let them get nice and soft for another 30 minutes.

The true test was what my dad thought of it.  I got two of the greatest compliments I think he could give cooking-wise.
The first: “Marie, this is restaurant quality.”  Score.
The second: “Marie, I have to say, this is the favorite thing that has ever been cooked in this house that was not mine.” DOUBLE SCORE.

Overall, I will definitely be making this stew again.  It was rich and hearty and perfect for the freezing weather us Bostonians have been experiencing.  Definitely not your average beef stew and definitely a recipe I will put in my cookbook.  Oh I haven’t mentioned my cookbook yet?  Stay tuned!

Boeuf Bourguignon
Adapted from No Empty Chairs

1/2 pkg (8 oz) bacon, chopped (I use center-cut; less fat makes me feel better)
3 lb beef roast, cubed
1 pkg (8 oz) whole mushrooms, quartered
2.5 cups red wine (Use the GOOD STUFF! I love Cabernet)
2 cups beef broth
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1 Tbs Dijon mustard
1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
2-3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbs cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup water
1 onion, diced
2 potatoes, peeled & diced
2 carrots, peeled & diced
2 stalks celery, chopped

Cook bacon in a large sauce pot. Remove from pan when fully cooked and crispy. Brown the beef cubes in the bacon fat. Add mushrooms (quartered if they are large) and chopped onion. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until onions and mushrooms just begin to brown.

Add the wine and let it reduce for 10-15 minutes, or until almost completely evaporated. Add bacon, beef broth, potatoes, Italian seasoning, tomato paste, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, pepper, and cornstarch mixture. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 1- 1 ½ hours. (The longer, the better!)

Stir in carrots and celery. Cook until vegetables are tender.  Serve hot with grated Peccorino-Romano or Parmesan cheese.

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