Sin In A Bowl

 If you've seen the film Julie and Julia  then you probably know about Boeuf Bourguignon.  It is a stew that is rich, silky, with meat that falls apart in your mouth, tender vegetables, and tastes like sin in a bowl.  The sort of thing that you would be happy to have in your repertoire.  It is great alone, but I recommend some good butter and french bread, which is easy to make.  I'll talk about bread in another post.

I added vanilla crepes which I cut into a chiffonade, and garnished with fresh parsley.

First, make brown beef stock. This recipe is adapted from Thomas Keller. Yields a little over 3 quarts, which you can freeze and use to enhance many sauces or as a base for soup. Get your mise ready before you start.

Mise en place:

2-3 Tablespoons of oil with a high smoke point (canola or vegetable works well)
About 5 pounds meaty beef necks, knuckles, ribs
2 small yellow onions peeled
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into medium dice pieces
1 large leek, roots trimmed, split lengthwise, rinsed well, and cut into 2 inch pieces
1 large sprig of thyme
1 large sprig of Italian parsley
3 bay leaves
1 head garlic
A teaspoon salt
A teaspoon black peppercorns


1. Preheat oven to 475 F. Roast the bones in a roasting pan with the oil (Just enough to coat the meat, not too much) for 45 minutes or until all sides of the beef bones are a rich, deep brown. Don't let them turn black or your stock will have a bitter taste.

2. Meanwhile, cut one onion in half and sear with the cut side down over medium heat. This will take about 20 minutes. Remove. Add veggies over high heat and brown them on all sides. This develops color and rich caramel flavor for the stock. Be patient and attentive.  Don't fiddle too much so your vegetables can brown properly.  Reserve the veggies on the side.

3. Take the bones out and remove from the roasting pan. Carefully drain off the fat, trying to retain as much of the browned solids as you can.

4. Deglaze the roasting pan over medium-high heat. Use about a cup of cold water. Scrape up as much of the stuck on brown bits as you can. This is called the fond. Let it simmer and reduce by half.

5. Meanwhile, transfer the bones to a large stock pot. Add enough water to cover.

6. Add the fond to the stock pot and S-L-O-W-L-Y bring to a simmer. This will take longer than you expect (1-2 hours).  If you heat it too quickly, you'll end up boiling the bottom of your stock pot, which will make your stock cloudy and produce an inferior result.  If you have a thermometer, you want the water to be 190-200 F. If you don't have a thermometer, you want it to bubble a little, but not a full boil. The water "trembles".  If your stock boils for too long, the veggies and impurities will emulsify in the water and you'll have cloudy stock that will go bad much more quickly.

7. Skim, skim, skim. You'll see foam and fat rise to the surface 15-20 minutes after. This won't happen if your temp is too low. Skim every 15-20 minutes for the first hour. Check every half hour after that and skim if necessary.

8a. Continue like this for at least 4 hours. 5 or 6 hours is better.  I like to let my stocks go for 8-10 hours to extract as much flavor and collagen as possible.

8b. 2 hours before you stop, add the vegetables and garlic.  

8c.  1 hour before you stop, add the parsley, bay, peppercorns, thyme.

9. When finished, strain the stock through a fine strainer. Do not jostle, shake, or press the solids. Let the liquid flow. Any of the above makes your stock cloudy as fine particles will get into your liquid. Be patient.

10. Strain again through double layered cheesecloth or a dish towel, or coffee filter.

11. Cool down the stock quickly in an ice bath so no nasty bugs get a chance to develop.  Using a metal mixing bowl works best to conduct heat away from the stock and cool quickly.

12. Store in the fridge.

13. Take off any fat that solidified on the surface.  The stock freezes nicely, and keeps for months.  It will go bad in the fridge in about a week.

14. Enjoy all that work. You'll never want to get the store bought stuff again, which is weak, lacks body.

Up Next: the Boeuf Bourguignon

Served with french bread I made (very simple, for another post)

Mise en place:

At least 2 lbs beef, cubed, you can use more.
1 tablespoon olive oil
Sale & Pepper
2 Large carrots, cut into 1-2 inch pieces
1 Onion, large dice/rough chopped
1 Leek, rough chopped
2-3 Celery
4-5 cloves of garlic, roughly cut
1/4 cup Cognac
1-2 cups Red Wine (what you don't use, drink!)
2 cups beef stock
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
2 Bay leaves
3 sprigs of parsley
3 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature, divided
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour


1. Season your beef with salt & pepper on all sides. Add oil to a hot skillet and brown the meat on all sides. Don't crowd the pan, work in batches if necessary. Otherwise your meat will steam.

2. Remove the beef. Add veggies and get a golden brown color all over, as above.

3. Add cognac. Get your head out of the way and be prepared to reset your smoke alarm. Light the cognac.

4. Remove veggies and deglaze the pan with about a cup of wine, scrape up all that tasty fond.

5. Add meat and veggies, stock, and more wine until the meat is barely covered. Cover the pan with or tight metal lid

6. Stick it all in the oven at 250 F for at least an hour, up to 2 hours.

7. At the end of its time in the oven, move the pan to the stove top and bring to a simmer.

8. Meanwhile, make a brown roux. Start by melting the butter in a sauce pan and then add flour and mix well with a fork or whisk. Let this cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally so it doesn't burn. The roux should begin to take on a brown color. It is ready when it takes on a color of caramel, or rust.

9a.  Ladle some of the liquid from your braising pain and whisk it into the roux to remove lumps.  Continue until it is smooth.

9b. Add the roux to the hot Boeuf Bourguignon and stir. Add more wine if necessary. Season to taste.

10. Enjoy.

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