Beef Bourguignon is a standard of French cuisine, and a wonderful example of simple, homestyle cooking that was elevated to status food. Traditionally in the northern regions of France, this dish begins by rendering bacon fat. Now I'm not embarassed to say that I actually have several tablespoons of rendered bacon fat chilling in my freezer even as we speak. I think it is handy to keep it there for just such an occasion. Because who wants to start rendering bacon fat on a weeknight?
So yes, you can use rendered bacon fat as you brown the chunks of beef, but you can also use a little butter or olive oil if you are feeling more heart-healthy. And with a nod to all things traditional and slow cooked, I have made this dish in the slow cooker, which is the perfect compromise for a busy cook who still craves the soul warming goodness of a beef stew on a cold winter evening. I wanted to add a note of hearty grain to the stew to give it the final touch of stick-to-your-ribs goodness, so I've added some bulgur to this classic dish.
|Beef cubes sizzle and sear. How can your mouth not water when looking at that sight?|
Slowcooked Beef Bourguignon with BulgurBy The Skinny Gourmet (E. McDonnell)
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 Tbsp butter or bacon fat
1 lb stew beef, 1 inch cubes
1.5 cups red wine
2 Tbsp flour
1 cup broth (beef, chicken or vegetable)
1 Tbsp tomato paste
3 Tbsp uncooked bulgur
1.5 carrots, peeled and chopped to 1/2 inch cubes
1 large Russet potato, peeled and chopped to 1/2 inch cubes
1 tsp dried thyme leaf
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
8 oz mushrooms (crimini or button), cleaned and quartered
Add the bacon fat or butter to a saute pan (ideally one that is not non-stick) over medium heat. When melted, add the onion and cook until slightly carmelized. Remove onions to a crock pot, and leave remaining melted fat in the saute pan. While the pan is still hot, add the cubed meat. Resist the urge to fuss the meat too much as it will interfere with the quality of the sear. When the bottom has seared and browned, agitate the pan to turn the meat and sear the other side. When you have seared as least two sides, remove the meat and any remaining fats to the crock pot.
If you are working with a pan that is not non-stick, as this point you have the glorious browning all over the pan that is the beginning of any deglazing process. Pour 1 cup of the red wine into the pan while it is still warm but not hot, and scrape the brown bits into the wine until all the browning has dissolved off the pan and into the wine. Pour the wine, along with the remaining 1/2 cup of wine, into the crock pot over the meat.
Add all the remaining ingredients except the mushrooms. Reserve the mushrooms to add towards the end of the cooking time.
Cook for 6-8 hours on low or until meat and vegetables are tender. Add the mushrooms in the last 30 minutes of cooking.
Serve with crusty toasted baguette, or borrow inspiration from the French and serve it poured over stale French bread.