Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Bacony Brisket Bourguignon

The Setting: At the apt. Just got back from the gym. Wishing my day off could last forever.

The Soundtrack: Brad Paisley radio on Pandora.

On the Stove-top: New Potatoes. Peas and young carrots.

Steaming up the Oven: Brisket Bourguinon.

The Scenario: A while back Hoosband and I made an incredible discovery when we veered off I-595 and ventured into a Hollywood, FL, neighborhood treasure, Penn Dutch Food Center.

This tightly merchandised, family-owned and operated supermarket, in business since 1975, processes the entire half-a-million pounds of meat they receive each week in-house, which translates to beef so affordable my ideals of traceability, sustainability, organics, and superior animal treatment--all things I theoretically strive to consider when contemplating a meat purchase--have no choice but to bow down to the price tag. Judge me if you must.

We left Penn Dutch that day with a 7.5-lb beef brisket and a plan.

Back home, Hoosband flopped that beautiful brisket on the cutting board, gripped his manly, Jacques Pepin-esque cleaver, and expertly and excitedly divvied the meat into fifths. Each fifth was fitted snugly into a quart-sized zip-top bag and stashed in the freezer for one of five future feasts: corned beef and cabbage, pastrami melts on homemade rye, BBQ-brisket tamales, beef (or boeuf, if you wanna get French about it) bourguignon, and beef carnitas.

With the first three dishes down to delicious memories, today we dive into the fourth:

Bacony Brisket Bourguignon

1.5 lbs beef brisket, room temperature, cut into roughly 1.5-inch cubes
2 T flour
Kosher salt, for continuous use
Freshly cracked black pepper, for continuous use
3 slices fatty bacon, roughly chopped or cut into strips (don't be a turkey, use the good stuff)
1 small white onion, finely diced
1 medium-sized carrot, finely diced
2 tsp minced garlic
1 T tomato paste
1 crushed bay leaf
several sprigs fresh thyme (let's call it 5)
2 whole allspice berries
2 cups red wine (preferably a Burgundy, but any decent pinot noir is a good bet)
2 cups beef stock, unsalted or very low sodium (homemade is even better!)
1 8-oz package frozen (peeled) pearl or cippolini onions, thawed (if using fresh, score, blanch, then peel)
1 T butter
8 oz baby portabella (crimini) mushrooms (or white button mushrooms, if you prefer), sliced

For serving:
Prepare while stew is in oven, if desired.
8-10 new potatoes (the small, red ones), rinsed, quartered, and boiled in salted water till fork-tender
8 oz young carrots, stems trimmed, parboiled and sauteed in butter till just tender 
8-oz bag frozen peas, added to carrots in last few minutes of cooking, sprinkled with salt and pepper
fresh parsley, very finely minced

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Sprinkle beef cubes with a pinch of salt and pepper, and toss with flour to lightly coat. Set aside.

3. In a large, oven-safe pot or dutch oven, cook bacon over medium heat until it's nice and crispy and its fat has been rendered. Using a spider or slotted metal spoon, carefully remove bacon from the pot, cover and set aside, retaining the fat in the pan. I don't blanch the bacon because I have never in my life eaten something and thought, "You know what this needs? Less Bacon-y-ness." You can taste my Southern roots in this stew.

4. Shaking off any excess flour, add the beef cubes to the pot and brown on all sides, making sure not to over-crowd the pot. Do this is batches if necessary. Carefully remove beef from the pot, cover and set aside. If there are browned bits on the bottom of the pot, yippee! Browned bits are your friend.

5. Add diced carrot and onion to the pot, sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper, and cook, covered, over med-low heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent and carrot is softened, about 20 minutes. Add garlic and tomato paste and cook about 1 minute. I believe seasoning as I go helps to develop the best flavors. Just be careful not to over-salt as you go. Remember: you can always add more, but you can never subtract what you've already put in.

6. Add thyme, bay leaf, allspice berries wine and stock, using a wooden spoon or heatproof rubber spatula to scrape up any browned bits and incorporate them into the sauce. Increase heat to med-high and bring just to a boil.

7. Return the beef and any delicious beef juices that have trickled out to the pot and add half the crisped bacon. Remove from heat. Cover and place on the middle rack in the oven at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 2 1/2 hours, or until beef can be pulled apart easily with a fork.

8. Melt butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add mushrooms and saute till they are beautifully browned and have begun to relinquish their liquid. Add pearl onions, sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper, and cook until onions brown slightly and begin to soften.

9. Carefully strain the stew over the saute pan so that the sauce marries with the mushrooms and onions. Remove beef from strainer and set aside. Discard remaining solids left in the strainer. Add reserved bacon to the sauce and cook sauce an additional 10 minutes to thicken slightly. Taste sauce and adjust seasonings if necessary. Stir beef back into sauce and remove from heat.

10. To serve, ladle stew over strained boiled potatoes, top with peas and young carrots, sprinkle with parsley, and enjoy!

Note: Start with a small serving. The inherent richness of the brisket makes this bourguinon extra filling, meaning more tasty leftovers!!

No comments: