Burgundian Beef Stew
(Boeuf à la Bourguignonne)
The secret to this classic Burgundian stew—that distinctive, almost velvety sauce—is not in the prestige of the cut of beef or the bottle of wine, it's all in the cooking: marinated overnight and then simmered long and gently. Thus does a potful of commonplace ingredients turn into what Julia Child once called "the best beef stew known to man".
4 lbs. beef chuck, cut into large pieces
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced
4 medium leeks, washed, whites chopped
1 bouquet garni (1 bay leaf, 2 peeled garlic cloves,
5 black peppercorns, and 1 sprig each fresh parsley
and thyme, tied in a bundle)
2 bottles red wine, preferably bourgogne rouge
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp. peanut or vegetable oil
2 tbsp. flour
1 calf's foot, split
Half baguette, cut into 12 1⁄4" slices
1 clove garlic, peeled
1⁄4 lb. slab bacon, julienned
1⁄4 lb. white mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
Chopped fresh parsley
1. Combine beef, carrots, onions, leeks, bouquet garni, and wine in a large bowl. Cover and marinate in refrigerator overnight.
2. Drain beef and vegetables, reserving marinade and bouquet garni. Set vegetables aside. Season beef with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a casserole over medium-high heat. Brown beef, turning occasionally, 7–10 minutes. Remove beef, add vegetables and brown, stirring, 3–4 minutes. Return beef, sprinkle with flour, and cook, stirring, 1–2 minutes. Add marinade, bouquet garni, and calf's foot. Bring to a boil, skim foam, then reduce heat to low. Cover; simmer until tender, about 2 1⁄2 hours.
3. For croutons, preheat oven to 350°. Toast bread in a single layer on a cookie sheet until golden, about 10 minutes. Rub with garlic; set aside. Cook bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crisp, 5–8 minutes. Remove. Increase heat to medium-high, add mushrooms, and cook for 5 minutes.
4. Remove beef from pot; set aside. Discard calf's foot and bouquet garni. Reduce sauce over medium-high heat until thick, about 10 minutes. Skim, then press sauce through a strainer. Season with salt and pepper and add beef. Garnish with parsley, bacon, mushrooms, and croutons. Serve with boiled potatoes or buttered noodles.