boeuf bourguignon

I feel left out. I keep hearing about this dish, it’s simplicity, rich flavors, and basic technique. However, the sheer quantity of wine in this French classic has left me feeling like an outsider. As someone who doesn’t drink alcohol the copious amount of wine that goes into this dish is far beyond justifiable. One can’t even hold to the half-truth of alcohol “cooking off.” This isn’t just a glug of red wine, it is a luxurious alcohol bath. The beef is practically inebriated! Also, I don’t know how to pronounce “Bourguignon.” Tired of being left on the sidelines, I decided to try it. Of course I replaced wine with a mix of broth and grape juice, although with trepidation. I mean grape juice meat doesn’t sound all that awesome.
I have always been hesitant of making dishes at home that are wine heavy. It is hard to know whether your homemade grape juice concoction will really be an adequate replacement and if the flavors work in the end. Fortunately they did. I was amazed at how just a handful of ingredients could end up tasting so rich and delicious.

Boeuf Bourguignon

1 lb beef shoulder (don’t remove the fat!)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp flour
1 cup grape juice
1 cup chicken or beef stock
1 clove garlic
a tied bundle of thyme

Season the meat with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven or heavy pan. Add the meat in batches and sear on all sides until brown. Try not to overcrowd the pan, set the meat aside once it is all browned. Lower the heat and add the onions to the pot and cook until soft and translucent, roughly 10 minutes. Sprinkle flour over onions and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes. Add the grape juice and stock to the pot, scraping up all the brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Bring the liquids to a boil.

Add the meat to the pot along with the garlic and thyme. If your meat isn’t submerged in the stock/juice add some water until the meat is covered. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer for about 2 hours, or until fall-apart tender. Stir every 20 minutes and remove any scum, oil that may accumulate. When done, remove thyme and serve.

Recipe notes: I found this pretty enjoyable, especially the second day (it’s also easier to remove the solidified oil). It is a solid stew base that can be adapted and modified. I ended up cooking mine much longer, the meat just wasn’t as tender as I wanted it. I added baby bella mushrooms in the last 15-20 minutes of cooking, but carrots, peas or other veggies are just fine. We ate this with a loaf of bread, but this stew over a bowl of buttery egg noodles sounds pretty awesome too. Was it authentic? I will probably never know.

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