03 September 2016

one pot, three eats.

Back in July I tried out two more Ina recipes, and I meant to blog about them but forgot.  Oops.  Anyway, here's my report, including two photos with some out of control highlights.  Oops again.

The first, Fennel & Garlic Shrimp.  Fish and seafood recipes always look and sound delicious but also intimidate me to death.  Why is that?  But I am getting more and more comfortable with shrimp, so.  This was the first time I've cooked with fennel.  I mentioned not too long ago a recipe for roasted pork loin that calls for fennel, but I've always left it out because the first time I planned on making it I couldn't find any fennel.  Well now I'm thinking it's finally time to add it back to the original recipe.

Anyway, I'm all over the place.  The shrimp was good.  The fennel loses its "licoriceness" when it's cooked down.  Make sure you have some good bread to sop up all the garlicky, shrimp juices right out of the pot.

The second dish was boeuf bourguignon.
No, it's just beef burgundy.  But!  It's amazing!

I made this on July 14th, thinking I'd be quite Frenchie making such a dish for the holiday.  And then Nice happened and I ate my soup in horrified shock and felt pretty foolish.

But still, it is the best.  Here's the recipe!

Boeuf Bourguignon, from Barefoot in Paris

1 tablespoon good olive oil
8 ounces good bacon, diced
2 1/2 pounds beef chuck cut into 1-inch cubes
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 pound carrots, sliced diagonally into 1-inch chunks
2 yellow onions, sliced
2 teaspoons chopped garlic (2)
1/2 cup Cognac or good brandy
1 (750-ml) bottle good dry red wine, such as Burgundy
2 to 2 1/2 cups canned beef broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 pound frozen small whole onions
1 pound mushrooms, stems discard, caps thickly sliced

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven, such as Le Creuset.  Add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is lightly browned.  Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a large plate.

Dry the beef cubes with paper towels and then sprinkle them with salt and pepper.  In batches in single layers, sear the beef in the hot oil for 3 to 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides.  Remove the seared cubes to the plate with the bacon and continue searing until all the beef is browned.  Set aside.

Toss the carrots, onions, 1 tablespoon of salt, and 2 teaspoons of pepper into the fat in the pan and cook over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minutes.  Add the Cognac, stand back, and ignite with a match to burn off the alcohol.  Put the meat and bacon back into the pot with any juices that have accumulated on the plate.  Add the wine plus enough beef broth to almost cover the meat.  Add the tomato paste and thyme.  Bring to a boil, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid, and place it in the oven for about 1 1/4 hours, or until the meat and vegetables are very tender when pierced with a fork.  Remove from the oven and place on top of the stove.

Combine 2 tablespoons of the butter and the flour with a fork and stir into the stew.  Add the frozen onions.  In a medium pan, sauté the mushrooms in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat for 10 minutes, or until lightly browned, and then add to the stew.  Bring the stew to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.  Season to taste.

Kristin's notes:
(1) The broth!  It's sweet and light and perfect.  If you want the soup to have a thicker consistency, add more butter and flour, but I think it's excellent as it is.
(2) The cognac!  I was so terrified to light a fire in the kitchen, I made sure Theo was deep into his nap before I got to the fire stage so I wouldn't have any distractions.  It turns out I had nothing to worry about because I used less than half the cognac called for, and the flame didn't even come out of the pot.  whomp whomp!
(3) Frozen pearl onions!  Apparently these things are seasonal because I went to five dang stores to find them.  Good old Trader Joe's saving the day.
(4) The wine!  Okay, so I've read all kinds of conflicting things on how long it takes alcohol to burn off and whether or not it actually happens, blahblahblah.  I deviated from what I would normally do and used a de-alcoholized wine in this recipe.  This was only because I'd planned on Theo eating the stew and wasn't interested in researching if the cooking time was long enough to cook off the alcohol in the stew.  Which is not to say I thought I'd get my kid drunk if I'd used regular wine, but whatever.  Life as a teetotaler gets weird when it comes to cooking, I'm fine with cooking with alcohol, some people are not.  Do whatever you want!  Replace the wine and leave out the cognac if you so choose.  (Postscript, when it comes to de-alcoholized wine, I've come to like the Fre brand better than Ariel, but use whatever you can find.  I've heard grape juice can work too?  Who knows.)
(5) The stew is better the second day!

Fun fact: used the same pot to cook both these dishes AND bake the bread we ate with them!  All hail the enameled dutch oven.  Maybe one day I will dedicate an entire post to it.  Like a weirdo.

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