After I posted the Brunswick Stew recipe a friend asked me if I had a good beef stew recipe. At the time I didn't, but I took it as a challenge. I immediately thought of using a slow cooker because the longer a stew cooks, the flavors become richer and deeper. I found a recipe for Beef Bourguignon in The Slow Cooker Ready and Waiting Cookbook by Rick Rodgers. He maintains that you can't just throw a bunch of ingredients into a slow cooker and expect it to taste good. Rather the cook should treat the ingredients just as you would if you were going to put them in the oven. Hence, there is a lot of sauteing and searing before you put the ingredients in the pot. The preparation is longer but the result is fantastic. So here is the recipe for Beef Bourguignon.
Bistro Beef Bourguignon
1 pound baby carrots, peeled
1 pound small boiling onions, peeled
4 ounces slab bacon cut into 2 inch pieces
2 pounds boneless beef bottom round, cut into two inch pieces and well trimmed
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
10 ounces fresh mushrooms, quartered
4 shallots or scallions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup double-strength beef broth, canned or homemade
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1. Place the baby carrots and boiling onions in a 3 1/2 quart slow cooker.
2. In a medium saucepan, combine the bacon and enough water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, and cook for 2 minutes. Drain well, rinse under cold running water, and pat dry with paper towels.
3. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon strips, turning often, until crisp and browned, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain.
4. Increase the heat to medium high. Add the beef, in batches without crowding, to the fat remaining in the pan and cook, turning often, until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer the beef to the slow cooker, add the bacon and season with the salt and pepper. Mix well, but leave the carrots and onions undisturbed.
5. Add the vegetable oil to the skillet and heat over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and shallots and cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms have given off their liquid and are beginning to brown, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Transfer the mushroom mixture to the slow cooker. Add the red wine, broth, parsley, tomato paste, thyme and bay leaf to the skillet and bring to a simmer, stirring to blend in the tomato paste and scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the skillet. Add to the slow cooker.
6. Cover and slow-cook until the beef is tender, 7 to 8 hours on low (200 degrees F). With a slotted spoon, transfer the beef and vegetables to a serving bowl, discarding the bay leaf, and cover with foil to keep warm. Skim the fat from the surface of the cooking liquid.
7. In a medium skillet, melt the butter over low heat. Add the flour and cook, whisking constantly, without browning, for 1 minute. Whisk in the cooking liquid and bring to a boil. Cook, whisking often, until thickened and reduced to about 1 1/4 cups, about 10 minutes. Pour the sauce over the beef and vegetables, mix gently, and serve immediately.