November 11, 2010

Thomas Keller's Boeuf Bourguignonne part II

Day 2: Monday.  Did you miss Day 1? Read all about it here.

5. Preheat the oven to 375° F. Remove the meat from the refrigerator, and skim off any congealed fat from the top.

6. Place the potatoes in a large saucepan along with 2 thyme sprigs, 1 bay leaf, ¼ teaspoon peppercorns, 2 garlic cloves and 1 tablespoon salt. Cover the potatoes with an inch of cold water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until tender. Drain, cool, discard the seasonings, and set aside.

7. Place the baby carrots in a medium saucepan with 4 thyme sprigs, 2 bay leaves, 1 teaspoon peppercorns, 2 garlic cloves and 1 tablespoon of salt. Cover with 1½ inches water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 4 to 5 minutes, or until tender. Drain, cool, discard the seasonings, and set aside.

8. Spread the lardons in a single layer on a nonstick or foil-lined sheet pan. Roast in the oven for 10 minutes, stir, and return to the oven for another 5 to 10 minutes, or until browned. Drain on paper towels.

I used pancetta for the lardons.  I wasn't sure where to find slab bacon and this way I could control the thickness. It was definitely saltier then regular bacon for sure. Yummmmmm, bacon.  Everything is better with bacon, and even better with pancetta non?

9. Melt the butter in a large skillet over high heat until the foam subsides. Add the remaining 32 mushrooms, reduce the heat to medium-low, and season with salt and pepper. Cook gently, tossing often, until the mushrooms are lightly browned and tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside.

What the hell is a button mushroom?  My butter foam never subsided and it started to brown, recipe didn't say anything about letting it brown so...  Is this where things started to go south?  No, I think that started way sooner.

10. Carefully transfer the pieces of meat to a deep, ovenproof sauté pan. Strain the liquid over the meat. Warm the meat in the oven for about 5 minutes, basting occasionally. Add the potatoes, carrots, mushrooms and pearl onions, and toss gently. Roast in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the meat and vegetables are hot.

Did you notice in the ingredients list when it said you need 12 red pearl onions and 12 white pearl onions that they should be "cooked"?  Me neither. How exactly does Tom propose I cook pearl onions? More importantly how do I cook them in the 5 minutes the boeuf is warming in the oven? So now I have two bags of pearl onions but none in my Boeuf.

ummm, kind of looks like plain 'ole watery stew, doesn't it? As Marija would say, Merde!

11. Meanwhile, warm the lardons in a small skillet. Chop the leaves of the remaining 5 sprigs parsley.

12. Remove the sauté pan from the oven, and gently toss in the parsley. With a slotted spoon, divide the meat and vegetables among 4 plates. Spoon some of the sauce over each serving.

Distribute the lardons among the plates. Sprinkle with fleur de sel, and serve immediately with Dijon mustard. Serves 4.

Oops, forgot the fleur de sel. Drats. And no Dijon. Who wants mustard on their stew? So here we have it, my first Boeuf Bourguignonne. It didn't come cheap, especially with the French oven purchase. It took two days to make, plus shopping for the 24 ingredients. I expected in return I would have a magical stew. Other than some subtle hints of thyme and red wine, I could have made this in the crock pot with about 15 minutes of prep time. My "sauce" was runny, my boeuf was tough. Such a let down. It was a decent stew, there just wasn't anything remarkable about it.

Now, on to the good news. French wine. My favorite region you ask? Chateauneuf-du-Pape! We're trying to plan our first trip next year. Wine country or Paris or both? When I checked on plane tickets they were $1,000 each. I'm not the kinda girl that spends $1,000 each on plane tickets. I actually went through a period where we didn't buy a plane ticket for over 4 years because I had so many frequent flier miles. I think I gave away a dozen flights to friends and family on top of the multiple trips we took. If I had known my work travel would be reduced I would have kept those miles all for France. C'est la vie.

Voila! Dessert! My first French Macarons. Except they weren't French, they were made at Whole Foods. Don't judge me. Pistachio, coconut and lavender. Outsides were yummy, insides were strangely tart.

The moral of this story is this meal takes some practice. I think there are a few things you need to just know that the recipe can't tell you. Like how do you know if you slow cooked the short ribs long enough? Also, altitude is not a friend to the home cook. Neither is my crapass gas oven. I'm going to go back to the basics, and work on mastering the braised short rib. Then I'll give it another go with Julia's recipe. Stay tuned, this aint over yet.

Adapted from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon (Artisan) 
Wine Spectator Match: 
Jean-Louis Chave Sélection St.-Joseph Offerus 2006 (91, $29)


  1. Sorry you were the guinea pig, but your post confirmed what I suspected. This recipe would SO not be worth all the work to me, but I might consider an attempt if I could score a cute little LeCruset French Oven!

  2. I think you would look spectacular next to a Carribean blue LeCrueset Jamie!!!

  3. Wow. I bow down to you! There is no way in hell I would ever try to make something with 24 ingredients. Not to mention the ulcer and anxiety attack I would most certainly have by the end of it.

    As for button mushrooms, they are those "regular" white ones sold at every grocery store as "mushrooms". And, in my experience the easiest way to cook pearl onions is to steam them in their skins, toss them in an ice bath, pop them out of their skins and then do a quick finish saute. Yummmmm!!!

  4. I love a girl who experiments! I have not yet ventured into the braised short ribs and am gearing up for it.
    Thanks for sharing this:)

    Never underestimate the power of bacon.




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