MISE EN PLACE:
Round mesh strainer
Bacon, batonnet cut
Lean stewing beef, tri tip beef, cut into 2” cubes
Carrots, medium in size, oblique cut
Onions, 1” dice
Brown Stock or beef Bouillon
Thyme leaves, fresh
Pearl onions, small
Step 1: This is a long recipe, and there’s a long time needed to cook the beef in the oven. So, first focus on getting everything ready to get the beef in the oven; work on the garnish (pearl onions and mushrooms) afterwards. If you don’t have fresh spices, you can substitute dry spices in a sachet.
Preheat the oven to 450 F.
Boil enough water to blanch the bacon. Add in the bacon when the water is at a full boil. Let it cook for a couple minutes, and then strain it. You may want to pat the bacon dry so it doesn’t have too much water.
Step 2: Find a saucepot that will be large enough to hold all the ingredients. Heat it with enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Pat the beef dry with paper towels. If the beef is wet, it will splatter a lot and may steam instead of searing. The oil shouldn’t be smoking. Test the heat by putting in the tip of a piece of beef. It should sizzle. Add the beef in a single layer with space between the pieces so they don’t steam. Don’t move the beef until it has browned well. Use your tongs to check on the brownness of the beef. Once it reaches a dark brown color, shake the pan and use your tongs to move the beef around so the other sides can also be browned. Remove the nicely browned seared beef. If the pan has a lot of fond on the bottom, you may want to deglaze so it doesn’t burn when you sear the rest of the beef. After deglazing, add some more oil and repeat the same process until all the beef has been seared. Deglaze at the end.
Step 3: Add the bacon to the saucepot and heat it up. If your bacon is not very fatty, add some oil. Watch the heat and cook until “breakfast brown and crisp.” Put the bacon on the side, and keep the bacon fat in the pan.
Step 4: Add the carrots and onion to the hot bacon fat. Move the pan, stir occasionally, and monitor the heat. You want to get deep caramelization on the vegetables. Once the onions and carrots are nicely caramelized, add in the garlic and sauté for 30-60 seconds. Remove the vegetables.
Step 5: Turn off the heat. Add the seared beef to the pan. Sprinkle in the salt and pepper. Mix the meat with your spatula to distribute the seasonings. Then, add the flour in, and mix that in with the meat. If the meat still looks wet, you can add some more flour and mix it in. Put the pot in the oven for 4-5 minutes. This will cook the roux. Take the pot out of the oven, toss the meat around again with your spatula, and put it in for another 4-5 minutes. The roux should brown, so if you still smell raw flour, put it back in the oven. Lower the oven temperature to 325 F.
Step 6: Heat the saucepot over low-medium heat. Stir in the cilantro, tomato paste, crisped bacon, wine, and beef stock. Bring the mixture to a boil, then shut the heat off. Add in the vegetables from step 4 and stir them in. Cover tightly with tin foil. Make sure to crimp all around the edges so not too much moisture will escape as it cooks in the oven. Place into the oven. Braise for 2-3 hours. Let it cook for at least an hour, then take it out, stir it, and check on the meat. At the end, a plastic spoon should glide through it, and the meat should tear apart easily.
Step 7: While the beef cooks, prepare the pearl onions and mushrooms. Boil some salted water, enough to cover the onions. Use your paring knife to take off the root and stem ends of the onions. Once the water is boiling, add the onions. Boil them until you see the skins starting to pop off. Strain the onions and rinse with cold water until they are cool enough to handle with your hands. Pop the onions out of their skins by squeezing one end of the onion. Heat some oil in a sauté pan. Test the heat by putting in one onion to see if it sizzles and browns right away. Add in the onions and sauté them until they are lightly browned. Move the pan and your spatula. Sprinkle on a little sugar to get nicer color. Lightly season with truffle salt. Remove the onions.
Step 8: Right before you are ready to cook, wash the mushrooms in bowl with salt water. Use your hands to scoop out the mushrooms. Repeat the washing until the leftover water is mostly clear. Put the mushrooms in a towel to dry them before searing. Heat a sauté pan, and put enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Test the heat using one mushroom to see if it sizzles. Add the mushrooms in a single layer. Don’t move them. Use your tongs to check on the browning. Once they are very brown on one side, shake the pan and you’re your spatula to stir them around to get browning on the other sides. Lightly season with truffle salt. Remove the mushrooms once they are nice and brown from the searing. Repeat the process for the rest of your mushrooms. Remember to only put in a single layer of mushrooms each time.
Step 9: Once the beef is done cooking, put the pan on the stove and heat it up to temperature. Adjust the heat so it is at a slow simmer. Use a ladle to skim off any excess fat. If the sauce is thin, let it reduce until it thickens to the desired consistency. The sauce should lightly coat the beef. Taste the sauce. Adjust the seasoning as necessary. Take out the sachet if you have one.
If the garnishes have cooled, you’ll need to re-heat them in a sauté pan. Add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan, and quickly re-heat the garnishes without overcooking them. Normally these are served on top of the Boeuf Bourguignon. Sometimes they are mixed into the stew itself.
Reflection: Most of the components and steps of this recipe were not new to us, but the recipe seemed hard because there were so many parts and it was hard to plan and time things well. Also, there wasn’t a demo, so we were trying to follow the written instructions from the website, but Chef said we could sear the beef first before we caramelized the vegetables, so that changed the timeline. Meanwhile, we were also working on the Navarin of lamb. It was just a really hectic day, and it was easy to get a little confused on which recipe we were prepping for, what needed to get done first, and things like that. I think if we did this again, it would go a lot smoother because I’d have a better idea of what the dependencies are and how long the various steps take. I didn’t really have time to taste this dish much except the sauce. It had a nice sweetness from the carrots. I think I will have to make this again just so I can sit down and eat it. One good thing was my searing on the beef came out pretty well today.