During the second semester of my third-year of college, I lived in Connecticut and worked “in industry” as part of a co-op program. I rented an in-law suite from an older, kind of weirdo couple and generally spent my afternoons and evenings holed up in my living space watching endless hours of TV. This was when I discovered the Food Network and subsequently, Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa.
I’d never really cooked before, since my mom was an excellent cook, and in college, I lived in dorms, so never had my own kitchen. I pretty much subsisted on the dining hall,
Hot Lean Pockets, and chips and salsa. Living in Connecticut, I expanded my cooking repertoire to include sandwiches. And yes, I still ate Lean Pockets, almost every night due to the fact that my “kitchen” consisted of a microwave. So instead, I watched a lot of Food Network instead of actually cooking and fantasized about eating the food I saw on television.
Fast forward about ten years (God, that makes me feel old!) and I feel that I am a pretty decent home cook. I still watch a ton of Food Network, but now I am confident enough to actually try the recipes that I see on TV and even experiment a bit. My favorite FN show has (and always will be) the Barefoot Contessa. I love just about everything she seems to stand for: good, simple food made with quality ingredients. She’s also based in the Hamptons on Long Island, and I’m not going to lie– I’ve had Derek drive me out to the Hamptons (his parents live on Long Island) in search of her awesome house. I know that makes me sound like a stalker, and needless to say, we had no luck finding her.
I love so many of her recipes, and this one for Beef Bourguignon is no different. It’s a pretty straightforward recipe that requires minimal prep and a long time in the oven for an oh-so impressive and delicious end product. This dish is fancy enough to serve company and easy enough to pull off on a lazy weekend afternoon. I believe that it’s Ina Garten’s take on Julia Child’s recipe. All I know is that it’s incredibly good!
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 pound fresh mushrooms, stems discarded, sliced (I used button mushrooms)
8 ounces bacon, diced
2 1/2 pounds chuck beef cut into 1-inch cubes (I used a package of “stew” beef)
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound carrots, sliced into 1-inch chunks
2 yellow onions, diced
3 cloves minced garlic (about 3 teaspoons)
1/2 cup Cognac
1 bottle dry red wine (I used a Pinot Noir)
2 cups (1 can) beef broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Small bunch of fresh thyme on the stem (or 1 teaspoon leaves, or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 pound frozen pearl onions
1 package of egg noodles
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Add 2 tablespoons of butter to a large Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed, oven safe pot. Saute the mushrooms for about 10 minutes until lightly browned. Put them in a bowl and reserve for later. Add the bacon to the pot and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is lightly browned. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon to a large plate.
Dry the beef cubes with paper towels and then sprinkle them with salt and pepper. In batches in single layers, sear the beef in the hot bacon fat for 3 to 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove the seared cubes to the plate with the bacon and continue searing until all the beef is browned. Set aside.
Heat the olive oil in the pot and then toss the carrots, and onions, 1 tablespoon of salt, 2 teaspoons of pepper and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the Cognac, and stir the vegetables until the alcohol is burned off. Put the beef and bacon back into the pot with any juices that may have collected on the plate. Add 2 cups of wine and 2 cups of beef broth to the pot. Add additional wine or beef broth to almost cover the meat, if needed. Add the tomato paste and thyme. Bring to a simmer, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and place in the oven for 2 hours, or until the meat and vegetables are very tender when pierced with a fork (start checking at 1 hour 15 minutes).
While the stew is in the oven, put the remaining two tablespoons of the butter in a small bowl and place on top of the stove to soften. Once the meat is tender, combine the reserved 2 tablespoons of butter (that was left of the stove to soften) and the flour with a fork and then stir in about 1/2 a cup of the broth from the stew and stir to combine. Stir the slurry (flour, butter, broth mixture) into the stew. Stir in the frozen onions and reserved sautéed mushrooms. Fish out the thyme stems if used. Bring the stew to a boil on top of the stove, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Season to taste.
To serve, cook and drain the egg noodles according to the package directions. Divide the noodles into servings and top with the stew and sprinkle with parsley.