Quick Recipes and Easy

The New (and Healthier) Boeuf Bourguingnon

“When beef stew is in the oven, all’s right with the world,” writes Julia Child in “The French Chef Cookbook.” Julia goes on to say that beef Bourguignon “is the best beef stew known to man.” As fabulous as her recipe is, it is also labor-intensive, and the directions are written in Julia’s thorough style. “Cover the casserole and set it in the lower third of the oven,” she advises, adding that you may also cook the stew on top of the stove, in an electric skillet, or a kettle.

I continued to prepare Julia’s recipe until I found another recipe in Mireille Johnston’s lovely and warming cook book, “The Cuisine of the Sun.” While Mirielle’s recipe has many of the same ingredients as Julia’s recipe, it also has chopped tomatoes, carrots, black olives, and a surprise ingredient – orange rind. Like Julia’s recipe it is very labor-intensive. “Although this takes two days to prepare, it is well worth the effort,” Mireille writes.

The stew is refrigerated for 24 hours to blend the flavors and congeal the stout, “which will look like a sheet of wax,” clarifies Mireille. After the stout has been removed you complete the recipe. Beef a la Nicoise should be served with fresh egg noodles, gnocchi, or plain boiled potatoes, “nothing too emphatic,” Mireille says, and I reckon she is right.

Yesterday the wind chill was so terrible it would have made a polar bear shiver. I yearned for beef stew in red wine, but did not want to spend hours in it, so I took shortcuts. Though I had less meat than the recipe called for, I didn’t worry about it because I had extra vegetables. Instead of fresh mushrooms I used dry ones from the pantry. I used garlic from a jar, frozen pearl onions, and tiny prepared carrots, which saved lots of peeling and chopping. My new, healthier beef stew tasted as excellent as the ancient Boeuf Bourguingnon and here is the recipe.

INGREDIENTS

1 cup sliced, dried mushrooms

6 slices diced bacon OR one 2.8-ounce package real bacon recipe pieces

1 1/2 pounds lean beef stew

1 teaspoon prepared garlic

1 beefsteak tomato, diced

1 cup petite carrots

1/2 pound (half package) frozen pearl onions

2 packets salt-free beef bouillon

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 tablespoons diced orange rind (Make sure there is no white pith.)

2 tablespoons Splenda

1/4 teaspoon low-sodium salt

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 1/2 cups excellent quality burgundy

2 cups water

METHOD

Cut fresh bacon into small pieces and fry until crisp. (Or, pour precooked real bacon pieces into slow cooker.) Drain bacon on paper towels and place in cooker. Wipe remaining grease from skillet with paper towels. Brown stew meat in skillet and transfer to cooker. Pour wine into skillet, scraping up bits from bottom of the pan, and simmer 2 minutes. Pour wine into slow cooker and add remaining ingredients. If liquid does not cover the meat add a small more water.

Simmer stew on high for one hour. Turn cooker to low setting and simmer two more hours. When meat is fork-tender thicken stew with three tablespoons of gravy flour blended with an equal amount of water. Add more thickening if needed. Serve as chunky soup with French bread, or over rice, or on wide noodles garnished with fresh parsley. Makes 6-8 servings.

harriethodgson.com www.harriethodgson.com
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Harriet Hodgson has been a freelance nonfiction writer for 28 years. Before she became a health writer she was a food writer for the first “Rochester Magazine,” in her home town of Rochester, MN. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists and the Association for Death Education and Counseling. Her 24th book, “Smiling Through Your Tears: Anticipating Grief,” written with Lois Krahn, MD, is available from amazon.com www.amazon.com A five-star review of the book is posted on Amazon. You will find another review on the American Hospice Foundation Website under the “School Corner” heading.

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