martes, 18 de octubre de 2011

Boeuf Bourguignon à la Cardoza (Douchebag French Beef Stew)

It's autumn in most of the northern hemisphere. For most of you, that means a chilly weather, windy days, pumpkins, spices and hot drinks. Not for us, though. Hermosillo has 2 seasons: Baseball and Summer. With temperatures averaging above 100°F year-long, our definition of comfort food is usually ceviche and beer.
Still, this being October, pumpkins, squashes and winter tubers are making their way into the supermarkets, so I decided to cook some quintessential comfort food for the blog, even though I was sweating my nutsack off in the process. Don't say I don't love you, fuckers.

Boeuf bourguignon is considered one of the sacred ancient dishes of french cuisine right now, but that was not always the case. Its origins are lost in time, but it's speculated that peasants devised braising their meats in wine as a way of softening otherwise inedible cuts, such as cheap-ass beef and fresh game. The great Auguste Escoffier, "Emperor of Chefs", elevated the recipe to new heights simply by serving it pretty, and made it globally popular in his last book, "Ma Cuisine" (My Kitchen) in 1934.

I learned how to make this when I was about 13 and got my hands on a copy of Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking", and as my first official culinary success, it holds a very special place in my cholesterol-encrusted heart. I've tweaked it over the years and I've noticed that, regardless of the changes I make, it yields consistently palatable results. I also made it in France for my french friends and it reminded them of their grandmas, so I guess I got it right,
By the way, she was 6 ft tall and actually worked for the CIA, so there's a chance she might have been an actual fucking spy. How awesome is THAT!?

Start with 5 oz of thick bacon. Traditionally, the meat was larded with pork belly. That is, it was threaded with a needle using long strips of pork fat to substitute for the marbling in better cuts of meat. Pancetta should be ideal, but since we're braising this until it falls apart, no one will notice. Roghly chop the bacon, then put in a pot over a ver low flame and render as much fat as you can from it.

Now add 2 large onions, 5 large carrots and 5 large ribs of celery (a basic mire-poix) to the bacon and sweat'em.

While the vegetables get all sweaty and do the nasty, turn your Crock-pot on high and empty a whole bottle of wine into it. Once the onions become translucent, add them to the wine.

Take 5 lbs of Chuck pot roast and cut into fist-sized chunks. The chunks must be large and evenly sized. Turn the flame up to high on the pot and brown them in whatever fat was left. This starts the now-famous Maillard reaction that will flavor the whole thing.

Once the beef cubes are browned, add them to the wine. Deglaze the pan and add all the burnt bits to the pot as well.

Stir 3 Tbsps sea salt, 3 Oz of tomato paste, 1 tsp ground chipotle pepper (part of the Cardoza touch), 2 bay leaves and lots of black pepper. Cover and ignore for 2 1/2 hours. The original recipe calls for a bouquet garni, which is simply a bunch of your favorite herbs tied up with string, but I've noticed that full-bodied wines don't actually need any seasoning.
Two-and-a-half hours have passed, now sprinkle 5 Tbsps of flour over the meat and stir to dissolve. Cover and ignore for another 30 to 40 minutes.

To serve, pick out the meat cubes from the stew and strain the gravy to discard the vegetables. Serve with whatever blank starch you have at hand. Buttered noodles, white rice, potatoes, mushrooms, whatever.
I actually like to eat the vegetables, but it definitely looks better without'em, I give you that.

Whatever you used to cook the meat will do. Most foodies swear by the "if you won't drink it, don't cook with it" dogma, but I say it's bullshit. Taste is a matter of personal preference, and sommeliers around the world are full of shit, (and, then again, probably so am I...).

L.A. Cetto's Nebbiolo, regardless of the vintage year, is an excelent choice for umami dishes. It has a very pleasant, deep red fruit taste with very well-rounded tannins that bring life to your dead cow.

In this case, I used a young E. & J. Gallo Cabernet Sauvignon. It's fairly inexpensive, well rounded, with notes of cranberries and cassis and very assertive tannins. Also, its acidity offsets the richness of the bacon and fat very well. Any brand of Cabernet will do.

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Boeuf Bourguignon à la Cardoza (Douchebag French Beef Stew)
5 oz bacon, chopped
5 lbs Chuck Pot Roast, cut in large chunks
1 750ml bottle of red wine
5 large carrots, chopped
5 large celery ribs, chopped
2 large onions, chopped
3 oz tomato paste
1 tsp chipotle powder
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper
5 Tbsps flour

  1. Fry the bacon over a low flame. Once it's released all of its porky goodness, sauté the carrots, onions and celery.
  2. Start your Crock-pot on high and empty the wine into it.
  3. Add the vegetables and bacon, then brown the meat in the leftover fat.
  4. Add the fat to the pot along with the rest of the ingredients, except the flour. Ignore the pot for 2 1/2 hours.
  5. Add the flour, stir well and ignore for another 30 to 40 minutes, to get a thick, delicious, hip-widening gravy.
  6. Take the meat out of the pot, strain the vegetables out of the sauce and throw them away. Serve with whatever you like.
  7. Fucking rule the table.
  8. Fucking leave a fucking comment, you owe me that much.
  9. Stay fucking awesome.

5 comentarios:

  1. Great recipe dude, as always, I will try this one soon :)

  2. Looks good, enough to keep that beer belly in a good shape.

  3. Uh, it really seems to be fantastic, and I can imagine it´s tasty and well-smelling!!! thanks!

  4. GOSH! so I guess I'll start cooking this as soon as I finish having my breakfast this saturday for it to be in time for the family meal time (1 p.m.)