Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Beef Bourignon

I made my version of Beef Bourignon for a Halloween party this past weekend.     I call it "Eyeball Stew" and finish it off with some pearl onions added at the end for the eyeballs.   But the basic recipe is a staple stew in our house and one I make whenever I need some stew.

Start by cooking some bacon until almost crisp, and then when it's cooked put it in the crock pot or large stew pot with an onion cut into quarters and then eights.  
Cut some beef into nice neat cubes, or buy some stew meat whichever one is easier for you.   Then brown them in a pan, with some of the leftover bacon grease or with a little olive oil.    I also cut up some mushrooms while the meat is browning, it saves time.

Make sure you don't crowd the pan as you want a nice sear on the meat.    As you can see the pan is nice and hot, and the meat is browning nicely.   You can add the mushrooms to the pan after searing the meat and let them brown a bit, it adds a nice layer of flavor to the finished stew.
I like to layer the beef, mushrooms, bacon and onion in the crockpot.   By the way, I've recently discovered Crock pot liners and have to say they are one of the biggest time savers when you've cooked meat in the crock pot.   It saves time in clean up.    Keep cooking the meat and layer them with the mushrooms in the pot until all the meat is browned.
Doesn't that look yummy?  Well it does if you're a meat eater.  Finish this off by adding some fresh thyme, about 3-4 sprigs, or 1 tbsp. dried thyme.     The recipe calls for some beef broth to be poured over the meat and left to simmer for 2-3 hours until the meat is tender.     I use a packet of Au Jus gravy mix, mixed with about 4 cups of water, and just pour this over the meat mixture.    I don't add salt as the Au Jus is salty enough for my taste, but you can add some freshly ground pepper at this point.     When the meat is tender, thicken the sauce with a little flour and water mixture or some cornstarch and water.    Serve this with rice, mashed potatoes or noodles.    And the vegetable of your choice.      Leftovers freeze beautifully, in fact I usually make enough for two meals, and freeze it. 

3-4 slices bacon, cut into thirds 
2 lbs. Stew meat, cut into cubes
8 oz. Fresh Mushrooms
1 onion, cut into quarters, then eights
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme 
1 pkg.  Au Jus mix or
4 cups beef broth
8 oz. fresh pearl onions, peeled, and a cross cut into the stem end.  (this keeps it intact as it is cooking).
Fresh ground pepper to taste

Cook the bacon until almost crisp, remove from pan and take away all but a tablespoon or so of the fat, reserve the rest to use for browning the meat.
Brown the meat in pan, until all of it has been browned using the reserved bacon grease until it's gone or use some olive oil, the bacon grease adds some flavor.    Add the meat to the crock pot as you brown each pan full of meat.
Cook the mushrooms in the leftover pan grease, and add to the crock pot, with the meat and chopped onion.
Add some water to the pan when you've finished browning all the meat to get the fond off the bottom of the pan.  There's a lot of flavor in those little browned bits and you don't want to lose any of that yummy goodness.    Pour over the meat and add the Au Jus mix or the beef broth.   Place the thyme on top of the pot, and leave to simmer until the meat is done.  Add the pearl onions the last half hour of cooking.  They really don't take a long time to cook.    When the meat is tender, thicken the broth with a mixture of flour and water or cornstarch and water.     Serve with rice, mashed potatoes or noodles.   And don't forget your favorite vegetable as an additional side.  

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