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Boeuf Bourguignon, Paleo-style

February 25, 2010

Beef stews - so delicious, so un-photogenic

I promised amazing paleo recipes, and I will deliver. This is straight-up cribbed from the amazing site Mark’s Daily Apple, which is a must-read for anyone interested in paleo or primal eating, or just plain healthy eating and exercise habits. While I love the success stories, fitness analysis and links on this site, of course the recipes are my favorites.

While poring over the site for inspiration, I came across the Beef Burgundy recipe. Like probably everyone else who saw the film Julie and Julia, we desperately craved boeuf bourguignon throughout the movie and then promptly forgot all resolve to actually make it the moment we left the theater.

When I ran across this recipe, months later, I was reinvigorated. It is a bit modified from the original Julia Child version from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, but you should still plan to block off a few hours to commit to this masterpiece. It is absolutely worth it. The slow braising makes the meat become meltingly tender, and the flavors meld into something rich and winey and unmistakeably French.

[Side note: In my limited experience, I'd advices using a quality source for your meat. Not that the cut needs to be expensive — since it's braising for a couple hours, it's going to get tender — but I think it's worth it to get local and/or grass-fed. Obviously it's more environmentally friendly, green-friendly, Paleo-proper, and all that en vogue stuff. But I made this dish with grass-fed Washington State beef purchased at Whole Foods as opposed to another beef stew later with free-range Australian meat from Trader Joe's, and I thought the WA meat tasted much better. Who knows...more testing needed. Price was the same, anyway.]

The recipe makes enough for 8, or a big dinner and 2 sets of lunch leftovers. It also freezes quite well.

Boeuf Bourguignon

Inspired by Julia Child and adapted by Mark’s Daily Apple

  • 1/4 lb. bacon
  • 4 Tbs. fat of some kind (butter or oil…I used a mix of coconut and olive oil)
  • 2 1/2 – 3 lbs. of beef cut into 2-inch cubes. I used the stew meat from the WF meat counter.
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 2 Tbs. almond flour (or regular flour, if non-paleo)
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbs. fresh thyme (or 1 tsp. dried)
  • 1 Tbs. fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 cups full-bodied red wine (I used Chianti)
  • 2 1/2 cups beef stock
  • 1 lb. white or brown crimini mushrooms

Preheat the oven to 425. Get your big shallow oven-proof casserole ready. I used our cazuela [How do you know you're a hipster foodie? When you have kitchen tools that don't have an English translation!] but any deep and wide oven-safe dish would work.

Cut the bacon into little strips (lardons) and saute with a tablespoon of the fat until cooked but not crisp. You can do this all in your Le Creuset if you are fortunate enough to have one, or in a deep skillet. Reserve the bacon in your casserole dish.

Pat the beef as dry as possible and in batches, brown it on all sides. Take the time to get all the sides brown, even though it takes a long time and is a bit messy, because it’s worth it for the flavor in the long run. As the pieces brown, add them to the casserole with the bacon.

When all the meat is browned, sprinkle it with the flour, salt and pepper and put it in the oven for 10 minutes. The goal is to create a bit more of a crust on the meat. Then remove from the oven and turn the heat down to 325.

In the skillet or saucepan you used to brown the meat, add another tablespoon of the fat/oil and saute the onions and carrots until soft. Then add the tomato paste, garlic, thyme, parsley and bay leaf. After a moment, stir in the wine and beef broth and bring up to a gentle boil.

Let the whole thing simmer for about 5 minutes so the flavors start to meld, then pour over the meat in the casserole pan. Cover the dish with a lid or foil, then place it in the oven and cook for 2 1/2 hours (I told you you need to commit to it!)

In the meantime, slice the mushrooms and saute in batches in the remaining fat/oil. Set aside.

Every hour or so peek in the oven under the lid to make sure the liquid bubbling gently. It’s done when a fork easily pulls the meat apart. You should taste it to make sure.

When done, take the meat out of the oven and strain it through a colander with a bowl underneath, so the liquid is in the bowl and the solids in the colander (not the other way around!) Put the liquid in a saucepan and bring it to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, put the meat back in the casserole (or another serving dish of your choice) and add the mushrooms.

When the sauce is done, pour it over the meat and mushrooms and top with chopped parsley.

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