January 17, 2008
I am bursting at the seams to tell you about all of the action in my kitchen over the past couple days. As I’ve said, I’m busy cooking and baking for back-to-back parties this Friday and Saturday. Since Friday’s more of a casual, small gathering, the real kitchen action has been dedicated to Saturday night. And I’d love to tell you all about it. Really, I would. And I will. I promise. But one of the two guests of honor on Saturday night has expressed her desire to be surprised by the line-up of tapas and treats. And, when I take a teensy tiny step back, I too realize that it will be much more fun for her to be surprised.
(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos and the recipe.)
And while patience isn’t exactly my forte, luckily, requests are. So, I was happy to indulge my sister in her request for this week’s installment of Family Dinner. As I told you last week, it was actually her duty to choose the meal this week, due to her surprise loss in last week’s Biggest Loser Bowl. She suggested Beef Bourguignon, like the one our step-dad makes. Well, the one he makes features beef tenderloin and is one of the most rich, earthy, decadent dishes I’ve ever savored. Clearly, it’s all my parents’ fault that we have this champagne taste.
I recently spotted our step-dad perusing Ina Garten’s Beef Bourguignon recipe. And I know—know—that the man doesn’t really follow recipes. And that he might have drawn a thing or two from her recipe, but the end creation is always all his. But, because I know he could never reduce his creation to a plain, ol’ recipe, I thought the Barefoot Contessa’s recipe would be as good a starting place as any. I mean, it did call for beef tenderloin, so at least I was on the right track there.
While my end result wasn’t quite as rich and transcendent as the one we’ve come to love at home, I have to say, it was very good. I made a couple tweaks to Ina’s recipe (mostly reducing the oil, bacon and butter and also increasing the liquid to get more of a soup than a stew), to rave reviews. But I’m shaking in my boots a bit, because I lost this week’s installment of Biggest Loser Bowl and now I have to come up with a menu as good as this one for next week’s Family Dinner. And I’ve got to do such brainstorming in between preparing delicious tapas after delicious tapas for Saturday night. I swear, I’ll tell you about them soon!
Filet of Beef Bourguignon
Ina Garten From The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook
1 3-pound filet of beef, trimmed
Freshly ground black pepper
3 to 4 tablespoons good olive oil*
1/4 pound bacon, diced**
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups good dry red wine, such as Burgundy or Chianti
2 cups beef stock
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 sprig fresh thyme
1/2 pound pearl onions, peeled***
8 to 10 carrots, cut diagonally into 1-inch-thick slices
3 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature****
2 tablespoons butter at room temperature****
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced 1/4-inch thick (domestic or wild)
With a sharp knife, cut the filet crosswise into 1-inch thick slices.***** Salt and pepper the filets on both sides. In a large, heavy-bottomed pan on medium-high heat, saute the slices of beef in batches with 2 to 3 tablespoons oil* until browned on the outside and very rare on the inside, about 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Remove the filets from the pan and set aside on a platter.
In the same pan, saute the bacon on medium-low heat for 5 minutes, until browned and crisp. Remove the bacon and set it aside. Drain all the fat, except 2 tablespoons, from the pan. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
Deglaze the pan with the red wine and cook on high heat for 1 minute, scraping the bottom of the pan. Add the beef stock, tomato paste, thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil and cook uncovered on medium-high heat for 10 minutes. Strain the sauce and return it to the pan. Add the onions and carrots and simmer uncovered for 20 to 30 minutes, until the sauce is reduced and the vegetables are cooked.
With a fork mash 2 tablespoons**** of butter and flour into a paste and whisk it gently into the sauce. Simmer for 2 minutes to thicken.
Meanwhile, saute the mushrooms separately in 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon oil for about 10 minutes, until browned and tender.
Add the filet of beef slices, the mushrooms, and the bacon to the pan with the vegetables and the sauce. Cover and reheat gently for 5 to 10 minutes. Do not overcook. Season to taste and serve immediately.
Note: This dish is excellent made in advance and refrigerated in the pan. When you are ready to serve, heat the filets and sauce over low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until heated through.
* I used 1 tablespoon of oil here.
** I used 3 slices of bacon.
*** I used frozen pearl onions.
**** I made the thickener out of 1/2 tablespoon each of butter and flour.
***** I cut the filet into 1-inch cubes.