Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon, Gluten Free

August 13, 2011

A classic French dish, beef burgundy basically boils down (no pun intended) to beef stewed in Burgundy wine until melt in your mouth tender. Of course, Julia Child's version is a little bit more involved -- this dish is absolutely a labor of love --but is so absolutely perfect. Extremely easily adapted to be gluten free, this dish lends itself well to a double-batch that freezes exceptionally well. Make up a double batch once a month and voila! Lunch and dinner once a week for a month. 

Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon (Beef Burgundy)
Serves 4-6

6 ounces of bacon
3 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
3 pounds lean stew beef, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 carrot, sliced
1 onion, sliced
Salt and pepper
2 Tbsp sweet rice flour or GF all purpose flour
3 cups full-bodied red wine (ideally Burgundy)
3-3 1/2 cups beef stock
1 Tbsp tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp thyme
1 bay leaf
18 to 24 pearl onions, white or yellow
3 1/2 Tbsp butter
bouquet garni:  4 parsley sprigs, one bay leaf, 1/4 tsp thyme, tied in cheesecloth or in a 2-inch mesh tea ball
1 pound fresh mushrooms, quartered

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Sauté the bacon in 1 Tbsp olive oil in an oven/flameproof Dutch Oven or 3-inch deep cast iron skillet over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. 

Pat beef dry with paper towels (the meat will not brown if it is damp). Heat the bacon grease until almost smoking, adding the beef a few pieces at a time and saute until browned on all sides.  Remove with a slotted spoon to the same dish as the bacon. 

In the same skillet, brown the carrots and sliced onions. Drain off excess fat. Return the beef and bacon to the Dutch oven and toss with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.

Sprinkle the meat and vegetables with the flour and toss again to coat lightly. Set the Dutch oven or skillet, uncovered, on the center rack of the preheated oven for 5 minutes. Toss the meat again and return the pan to the oven for another 5 minutes, creating a nice crust on the beef.

Remove the pan from the oven and reduce the temperature to 325 F. 

Pour the bottle of wine over the meat and add enough stock to just cover the beef. Add the tomato paste, garlic, and herbs; bring to a simmer on the stovetop. Cover the pan and place it on the lower oven rack. Check and adjust the temepature so that the liquid simmers slowly for 3-4 hours or until the meat is fork-tender. 

While the beef is cooking, heat 1 1/2 Tbsp butter and 1 1/2 Tbsp oil in another skillet until just bubbling. Add the pearl onions and saute over medium heat for 8-12 minutes, turning them so that they brown as evenly as possible, careful not to break the skins of the onions. Add 1/2 cup stock, salt and pepper to taste and the bouquet garni.

Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender (but remain whole) and the liquid has evaporated. Remove the bouquet garni, onions and set aside. Wipe out the skillet, heat reserved oil and butter over high heat  and add the mushrooms, sauteeing for 4-5 minutes. Once the mushrooms are lightly browned, remove the pan from the heat. 

Once the meat is tender, pour the contents of the pan through a sieve set over a saucepan. Wash out the pan/Dutch oven and return the beef to it. Arrange the mushrooms and onions over top. Skim the fat off the surface of the sauce pan and simmer the drippings for 1-2 minutes, skimming off any additional fat as it rises to the surface. You should end up with about 2 1/2 cups of sauce that is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. (If the sauce is too thin, bring it to a boil until it reduces to the proper thickness. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.)

Pour the thickened sauce over the meat and vegetables. Cover and simmer 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce to keep it moist. Serve straight from a casserole dish or Dutch oven, over potatoes or pasta. 

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