View Full Version : Question about BC's Beef Bourguignon
12-29-2009, 07:02 PM
I am thinking about making the Barefoot Contessa's Beef Bourguignon for New Year's Eve and have a few questions for anyone who has made this before.
1. Which one of her two recipes is better? One is made with fillet (is that tenderloin?) and the other with chuck. Is the fillet recipe better?
2. Can both be made a day ahead? Only one of the recipes says it can be made ahead. The one made with fillet says to serve immediately.
3. I am a little intimidated by the burning off the cognac step. Any thoughts on how to do that without burning the house down?
4. There will be 8 of us. Do these recipes make enough for 8?
5. I've made Julia Child's recipe once, but thought I would try BC's this time. Anyone made both? Which one is better?
12-29-2009, 07:39 PM
I made Ina's version with 1 1/4 lbs. of strip sirloins. They were an Omaha Steak gift that had been sitting in the freezer for months. I skipped the Cognac step.
I think most stews are best made a day ahead.
Can't vouch for servings, because I reduced some ingredients ... only used 3 slices of bacon, 2 cups of wine, 1 1/2 cups beef broth, 4 carrots, and 1 onion. Everything else was as written.
My husband really liked it. I'm not crazy about stewed/braised meat, so it was just so-so for me.
12-29-2009, 07:40 PM
This is not super helpful since I've made just the chuck version ("Barefoot in Paris") but I would not hesitate in the least to make any version a day in advance. I've made this recipe twice and it was very well received both times.
You have nothing to worry about re the cognac, and it's a very important step so don't skip it. Do you have one of those (what are they called??) sticks for lighting stoves? Someone chime in if that's a good or bad idea, but I wished I had one. Otherwise, long fireplace matches are fine -- just keep your fingers AWAY from the bottom of the pot.
I would be comfortable with one recipe serving eight (says six, but consider the source!) but I would also have something else on the table: a salad, green beans amondine, roasted veggies, etc. as well as an hors d'oeuvre and dessert.
I would think the use of tenderloin in something braised would not be a good use of an expensive and (generally) lean cut of meat.
I would definitely chose something more like chuck (or sirloin, as Charley did) for a meat in that style of recipe. The long, slow, moist cooking of a braise brings out the best in those types of cuts.
12-29-2009, 08:42 PM
The filet recipe is excellent. It's not at all a traditional boeuf bourguignon, though.
It is basically pan fried tenderloin slices in a bourguignon sauce/gravy.
It's very doable to make the sauce ahead and add the beef just before serving.
12-29-2009, 09:12 PM
Canice, why do you feel the cognac is so important? It's not in Julia's version or any other that I've come across.
12-29-2009, 09:27 PM
Charley, I should start by saying that you and I were posting at the same time, so I want to clarify that I wasn't contradicting your comment about skipping the Cognac (though it probably reads that way). My point, rather, was that igniting the Cognac is important. That burns off most of the alcohol, and if you don't include that step it will taste too boozy. As for the role of the Cognac itself, I can't say. I just fell in love with the recipe when I saw Ina make it on TV, so I did as I was told :p
The "Paris" recipe makes a lot more and is a more traditional braise that I myself would be more comfortable making a day ahead and simply reheating for a group of eight. But again, it's the only one of the three recipes I'm familiar with -- and I'm no expert on beef -- so it's just an offhand opinion.
Not that it amounts to a hill of beans here, but many years ago, I found a stroganoff recipe I adored which called for (gasp!) flaming with cognac. I was a novice cook for the most part, and the idea seemed both exotic and scary--especially given that I'm a person whose fingers read like a roadmap of her culinary (and medical) misadventures-- yes, they actually allowed me touch scalpels and syringe needles-- both of which have contributed to my scar collection.
I should also mention here that I am TERRIFIED of matches, making flambéing a particularly scary enterprise. But once I thought to grab a fireplace match, it was honestly a piece of cake. Fun even. In fact, I liked it SOOO much that I went through a period of flambéing all kinds of things-- if you read my recipes from that time period you'll find the darnedest things are sloshed with cognac and ignited. It wasn't just that it was jolly good fun, rather I also found that it added a subtle nuance, a perfect occasion to toss in that expression "je ne sais quoi" which I've probably misspelled... I like what flaming cognac does to a nice cut of beef. I'll bet that you will, too. :)
Regarding the serving sizes, it is a rich dish, and her servings are always very generous to me, so I think it would be perfect for 8 people, especially if you're serving with salad, bread, dessert, etc.
Also, we just watched an Alton Brown episode where he flames cognac for a pan sauce for steaks, and he said you should turn off the heat before you do it, and have an appropriately sized pan lid nearby to quickly place over the pan, should the flare get out of control.
12-30-2009, 10:41 AM
Canice, gotcha! I didn't even notice we were posting at the same time.
12-30-2009, 11:23 AM
Yes, the important point about flaming alcohol in a dish is that the pan should NOT be over any heat source. Turn off the burner if you are on a gas stove, or remove the pan completely from the stove if electric.
As far as day-ahead vs not, and tenderloin vs chuck:
A dish prepared with tenderloin should NOT be cooked for a long time; it is best when the meat is rare or medium but not well-done. Therefore, you would not want this dish to cool, then sit around in the fridge, then be reheated. Sure, the flavors of the sauce may improve, but what you gain there you lose by having well-done, reheated tenderloin.
A dish prepared with a cut like chuck benefits from slow cooking. That allows the fat and collagen in the meat to melt and soften and give you that rich, silky texture that is the whole point of chuck. In that case, making ahead and reheating gives you all the benefits and none of the drawbacks.
I have made Ina's beef B with the chuck several times to rave reviews! I am terrified of flaming:). I have a hood over my stove and I am afraid it will catch everything on fire. I have flamed accidentally at times , and it has freaked me out. The grandkids like the beef B, too!:) The beef is very tender and the sauce is so flavorful.
I am not familiar with the recipe using tenderloin, but I would think that with tenderloin you would have to cook it very quickly and not braise it.
12-30-2009, 01:01 PM
I have no idea why I said I'd make either version in advance; of course everyone's right about the fillet. :o
12-30-2009, 08:17 PM
Thanks for the responses, everyone! I made the recipe tonight and managed NOT to burn down the house. Whew! I hope it turns out. I am a little worried that I cut the meat into too small pieces--looks a little weird, but I am hoping it will taste good. Will report back tomorrow.
Now one final question--I have seen suggestions to serve the dish over rice, mashed potatoes, noodles or a piece of bread. I am definitely not doing the bread thing (even though that's part of the recipe) but am wondering if anyone has thoughts about what is best as an accompaniment. I feel I need to serve it over something since it's pretty soupy and my meat pieces are itsy-bitsy. Sigh. Will be serving salad and a rustic bread, too.
12-30-2009, 08:24 PM
I did the crostini thing but my other choice would be extra wide egg noodles. The cheap ones from the bottom shelf at the supermarket :D
I think rice would get lost and just make it too starchy (and double ditto for mashed potatoes). The egg noodles would hold up better and are reminiscent of Stroganoff. Alternatively, I'd roast Yukon Gold or red potatoes, but I don't love the idea.
12-30-2009, 09:06 PM
I served it over smashed Yukon golds.
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