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Boeuf Bourguignon or Beef Stew Times Three!

Friends Jen and Kevin spent another lovely Sunday afternoon at Bret’s Table. We cooked Boeuf Bourguignon using three different recipes. Jen followed the one from “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”. Kevin cooked the recipe adapted by the New York Times from the book, “I Know How to Cook [1]“. I tackled the one from “Le Cordon Bleu at Home”.

It was a very non-scientific experiment, to the point where in the middle of cooking, we realized we should have at least used the same cut of meat and wine varietal. Jen used a top round and a Chianti and Kevin and I cubed a chuck roast and both used a burgundy. Kevin’s recipe stated that the entire time was to be on the cook-top, Jen and mine both spent the majority of the time in the oven. Kevin’s had the least number of steps, 5 to be exact. Jen’s recipe, as well as mine, had about the same number of steps but in slightly different order and definitely more than five. I liked the steps in my recipe the best, mainly due to the fact that I didn’t have to pick out the cooked lardons before the sauce was strained.

Generally, we determined that time in the oven is best as it produces fall apart beef, whether top round or chuck roast. One doesn’t have to use a Burgundy, Chianti works just fine. Any garnish that you want to include should go into the pot after the sauce is strained, not before. Kevin finished about 1/2 hour before Jen and I, as we were sauteing mushroom and pearl onions. I went on to make toasted croutons in the shape of hearts. I stopped short of dipping said croutons in the sauce, for which the recipe called, then in finely chopped parsley before arranging on the serving platter. The parsley was just sprinkled on top with a crouton alongside.

What we took away from the afternoon was that one could prepare dinner (with enough to freeze for another meal) in about 45 minutes of active time. During the 3 hours we waited for the Boeuf to cook, we shared some snacks, enjoyed a couple of glasses of wine and caught up with what was happening in our lives; whether a recent biking trip in Borneo or a visit to Florida to see the parents.

We are already looking forward to our next get together, some Saturday in January. We’ll be making croissants.