The Breukelen Life

The Breukelen Life

Food, Yoga and Travel in Brooklyn

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“…nothing is too much trouble if it turns out the way it should.”

January 7, 2013 , ,

I realized that when I’m old and gray and no longer living in New York, it will be weekends like this that I will be wistful for and will probably expel greatly on to whomever will listen. I hope I don’t speak too quickly, but I feel as though I have finally, possibly, found a balance to things. It’s not as though I was trying. I had finally accepted my New York fate as being a hectic one. One in which I spiraled constantly until I had to commit myself, unable to gain control, claim that I can possible take no more and leave the city for good.

For now, things have simmered. I go into the week, rested and fulfilled, an odd combo for me. While it may just be the winter cold slowing my pulse…I’ll take it.


P and I had quite the Sunday afternoon as we plowed through two of the most classic French recipes – Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon and the macaron. P has been on quite the macaroon kick and I can say with confidence that his rival any that I’ve tasted from the South of France to the Macaron Café on 36th street. Those will be coming later on in the week. Today, we’ll talk about Boeuf Bourguignon.

Boeuf Bourguignon has been on my list for quite some time and I knew immediately that making both that and macarons in one day might just be the end of us. But it wasn’t. We prevailed and dare I say, it wasn’t as hard as we may have thought. Below is our adapted recipe.

You can see the original here in all of it’s random glory. There are certain steps, like using a bacon rind and then boiling the bacon before sautéing, that we considered too be too much.

While the beef was doing its thing in the oven, we pulled up the original video of her and watched. After seeing her cut out the bacon and simplify the onions and the mushrooms, we decided to do the same.

If you have the time, I would recommend watching this – seriously.

If not, I would say the main thing to take away are the tricks to browning mushrooms.
1. They must be dry – just like beef – to brown properly
2. Butter and oil must go in the pot together, butter burns faster and the oil stops that from happening.
3. The butter is hot enough once the foam subsides
4. It takes much longer than one thinks to brown a mushroom.
5. The result is well worth it. The process brought out complex flavors in my basic white mushrooms that I didn’t think possible.

And on that note, here’s the recipe. Enjoy!

• One 6-ounce piece of chunk bacon
• 3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
• 3 pounds lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
• 1 carrot, sliced
• 1 onion, sliced
• Salt and pepper
• 2 tablespoons flour
• 3 cups red wine, young and full-bodied (like Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone or Burgundy)
• 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups brown beef stock
• 1 tablespoon tomato paste
• 2 cloves mashed garlic
• 1 1/2 teaspoon thyme
• A crumbled bay leaf
• 18 to 24 white onions, small
• 3 1/2 tablespoons butter
• 1 pound mushrooms, fresh and quartered

Cooking Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Sauté lardons in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a flameproof casserole over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon.


Dry beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Heat fat in casserole until almost smoking. Add beef, a few pieces at a time, and sauté until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the lardons.


In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the excess fat.

Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes.

Toss the meat again and return to oven for 4 minutes (this browns the flour and coves the meat with a light crust).

Remove casserole and turn oven down to 325 degrees.

Stir in wine and 2 to 3 cups stock, just enough so that the meat is barely covered.

Add the tomato paste, garlic, ½ tsp thyme. Bring to a simmer on top of the stove.

Cover casserole and set in lower third of oven. Regulate heat so that liquid simmers very slowly for 3 to 4 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.

While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms.


Put them in a single layer in a stock pot. Add enough water so they are barely covered and 1 ½ tbsp of butter. Simmer until tender.


Heat remaining oil and butter over high heat. As soon as you see butter foam has begun to subside, indicating it is hot enough, add mushrooms. Add 1 tsp of thyme.

Toss and shake pan for 4 to 5 minutes. As soon as they have begun to brown lightly, remove from heat.


When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan – return the beef and lardons to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms on top.

Skim fat off sauce in saucepan. Simmer sauce for a minute or 2, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. (We simmered for almost 20 minutes, constantly skimming off nice pieces of fat and adding a few tsp of corn starch at the end to thicken. Use your own judgment.)

If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons stock. Taste carefully for seasoning.

Pour sauce over meat and vegetables. Cover and simmer 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times.

Serve in casserole, or arrange stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes, noodles or rice, and decorated with parsley.

Ed. Note – I’m still working on the menu pages. Thanks for your patience! If you have mad word press skills and would like to donate your time – please let me know!


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