We had friends over for dinner this past weekend, and I wanted to fix something that I could make ahead. It is still cold here, so a nice stew or similar hearty dish sounded good. I usually head to Epicurious, but this time decided to make use of some of those cookbooks I have. I found what sounded like the perfect recipe in "Chocolate & Zucchini-Daily Adventures in a Parisian Kitchen" by Clotilde Dusoulier. Some of you may be familiar with her from her blog Chocolate and Zucchini. She described Beef Bourguignon as the epitome of a soul-warming dish for chilly winter nights. That had me convinced. Well, I've found the perfect recipe. Extremely flavorful, tender, just wonderful. Okay, two quotes from my friend's husband: "When you eat this, you know there is a God." and "This is the best beef dish I have ever eaten." Makes you want to try this recipe, doesn't it? You won't be disappointed. For the wine in the marinade, I used a Pinot Noir from Washington(or maybe it was Oregon), about $15/bottle. I served it with a few small steamed Yukon Gold potatoes, and some bread for getting every last drop of the sauce from your bowl. Along with a refreshing salad of mixed baby greens, orange segments, avocado, sliced toasted almonds, and an orange vinegrette it was the perfect meal. (Okay, it didn't hurt that we started off with "Taste of Summer" cocktails and gougeres, and finished with Chocolate Mousse, but more about that later.
Adapted from Chocolate & Zucchini by Clotilde Dusoulier
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 medium shallots, finely chopped
3 medium carrots, cut into 1/2" slices
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped
Sallt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 1/2 pounds well-trimmed boneless beef chuck, cut into 2" cubes
1 bottle medium-bodied dry red wine, like a French Burgandy or a good Pinot Noir
6 ounces thickly sliced uncooked bacon, cut into 1/2' strips
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 oz. semisweet chocolate, broken into bits
Small steamed potatoes or cooked pasta for serving
1. Start the marinade 12 hours or up to a day in advance. Combine the onion, shallots, carrots, garlic, thyme, parsley, and bay leaves in a large mixing bowl. Season generously with salt and pepper, add the olive oil, and toss to coat. Add the beef and toss again. Pour in the wine, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 12 hours, or up to a day.
2. When you're ready to cook the stew, pour the marinade, meat, and vegetables through a colander into a second large bowl, to save the liquids and solids separately. Remove the meat from the colander (it doesn't matter if a few bits of vegetables stick to the meat), and set aside on a plate.
3. Set a large heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add the bacon, and cook until crisp. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside. If there is more than 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings in the pan, pour out the excess fat.
4. Add the marinated vegetables and cook for 5 minutes, until softened, stirring regularly. Remove the vegetables from the pan and return to the bowl.
5. Working in 2 batches, place the meat in a single layer in the pan without crowding and cook until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes per batch. When the second batch is done, return the first batch to the pot, sprikle with the flour, and toss until no white trace of flour remains. Add the vegetables, pour in the reserved marinade, and stir. Bring to a simmer, turn the heat down to low, cover, and cook for 3 hours. About 1 hour into the cooking, add the chocolate and reserved bacon.
6. Remove the lid, turn the heat up to med-high, and cook for 20 minutes, stirring regularly, until the sauce is thick enough to cling to the meat. Transfer to a serving dish or serve straight from the pot, with small steamed potatoes or pasta. Bread is also nice to mop up the sauce.
Note: For deeper flavors, it is best to cook Beef Bourguignon a day ahead. Start the marinade 2 days in advance. Cook the stew the next day, cool uncovered on the counter, cover, and refrigerate. On the third and final day, skim the fat from the surface, reheat over gentle heat, and serve.
***I had leftovers, and I shredded the chunks of meat, put them back into the sauce, and served over pasta topped with some grated parmesan. Not sure this wasn't as good as the first meal.