Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The imperfectionist's guide to beef bourgignon

Sometimes, it's just worth winging it.

First, make sure your stew meat is thawed. Or, at least, mostly thawed. Pull your bacon, carrots and onions out of the fridge. Realize you can't find your mom's copy of Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Hope you'll remember the recipe well enough.

Heat up your pot and slice your bacon. While the bacon is sizzling, send a kid next door to borrow a roll of paper towels, because you're out of those, too. Blot the moisture off your mostly-thawed beef.

Realize you're out of beef stock, and you let hubby take the car today. Figure you'll make do, even though it's kind of a critical ingredient.

Spoon the crispy bacon into a bowl. Brown the meat in the bacon grease in small batches, so as not to overcrowd and "boil" the beef. (Be grateful you remember this line from "Julie & Julia.")

Turn over the small pieces first so they don't get overcooked. (You've got this down!) Try not to burn yourself over the popping grease.

Chop a few carrots and slice a couple onions while the beef is browning.

Remove the browned beef into the bowl with the bacon as each batch is done. Then toss the carrot and onion slices into the pot with a little bit of oil, and stir. Salt and pepper. Realize you don't have thyme. Worry about that later.

Heat up the oven to 425 while the veggies soften. Sprinkle a couple tablespoons of flour, some salt and pepper over the beef, and mix gently.

Dump the meat into the pot over the veggies, and look around for dish towels that aren't wet, since you still have no idea where you packed your potholders.

Move the uncovered pot into the hot oven to brown -- know you have exactly 10 minutes to find an alternative to beef stock and a bottle opener for the wine.

Run like mad next door to your parents' house where half your kitchen supplies are stored, find bottle opener but no beef broth. Run across the street (in your pajamas and apron), and ask your neighbor if she's got any stock or bouillon cubes. Rejoice when she hands you beef bouillon powder (it'll do!) and run home like mad before the beef is overcooked.

Pull the pot out of the oven. Turn the heat down to 300 degrees.

Pour a tall glass (because your only measuring cup is in the dishwasher) full of water, spoon in a random amount of bouillon powder (because the jar doesn't have directions), mix and dump into the pot.

Remember you haven't added any herbs. Dump the last part of a bottle of Herbs de Provence into the pot. Open the bottle of cab you borrowed stole from your parents' house along with the opener, and cover the meat with it.

Stir, and bring to a simmer. Cover, and put in the oven.

Whew. Dinner will be ready at 5:30. (Now you have three hours to paint the kitchen cabinets.)

Note: All's well that ends well. Or, dinner made a bit frantically can still be quite delicious!


Kathy's Red Door Welcome said...

I'm sorry I missed dinner!I'm happy you are blogging again and enjoying your almost finished kitchen.

Lift Up Your Hearts said...

Mmmm! This looks great, and I'm super impressed that you had dinner in the oven THREE hours ahead of time!

Heart's Home said...

Will the Cab "cook off" since we have alcohol sensitivities over here? Do you suggest an alternative? Sometimes I use a sparkling juice like cranberry to sub. What do you think? Also, do you just put the beef in with the flour all on top like snow capped mountains. no stirring? I feel so compelled to stir flour into things :) Thanks, Amanda! You rock ... esp the running in pjs and apron to neighbors.

Heart's Home said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amanda said...

Heart's Home -- yes, you do mix the flour, salt and pepper into the meat! :). The alcohol will cook off, but if you have a sulfite allergy, look for a low-sulfite wine. I don't know much more than that! Good luck! :)

mandi said...

Ha! That is my kind of dinner prep!

Looks really yummy!

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