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The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook: Filet of Beef Bourguignon

A quicker treatment than the classic recipe for beef Bourguignon, which requires a long cooking time. This recipe uses slices of beef filet, which cook up very tender and tasty. The downsides: a 3-pound filet of beef is very expensive, and the recipe didn't make enough sauce.

I spent $38.00 for a 2.85-pound filet (the biggest I could find at my market). That's a lot of money to spend on what's essentially a fairly simple, hearty stew. According to the book, the recipe serves 6 to 8 people (and I thought it could possibly serve 10). If you want to reduce your expense and don't need that many servings, you could halve the recipe.

My other big issue with this recipe was the sauce. Garten has the cook slice the carrots quite thickly, and then says to simmer them uncovered in the sauce until tender, "20 to 30 minutes." My 1-inch thick carrots were nowhere near fully cooked in 30 minutes. It took another 20 minutes for them to be completely cooked through, by which time the sauce was way too reduced. I like the look of the thick-sliced carrots, but the instructions in the recipe didn't work for me, so my solution is to double the amount of liquid that goes into the sauce. That way there is plenty of liquid for the carrots to cook in, and the sauce does not over-reduce.

Make sure you're using a very large skillet -- at least 14 inches in diameter. There are a lot of ingredients here, and trying to combine everything at the end will be difficult if you're using a smaller pan.

To make things easy, use frozen pearl onions that are already peeled. If you're using fresh ones, you'll need to blanch them in boiling water for about a minute, then slide the skins off.

Ina Garten doesn't give any serving recommendations for this dish. I liked it with buttered egg noodles, and it would also go well over steamed white rice. Like most stews, this one tastes even better the next day. You can make it in advance up to the point when all the components are combined in one skillet. Cool, then cover and refrigerate. To serve, reheat the beef Bourguignon over medium heat until completely heated through, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: about 1 hour 30 minutes
Yield: 6 to 8 servings

3 pound filet of beef, trimmed of fat and silverskin
Salt and pepper
4 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 pound bacon, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups dry red wine
4 cups beef stock
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 sprig of fresh thyme
1/2 pound pearl onions, peeled
8 to 10 carrots, cut diagonally into 1-inch thick slices
3 Tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced 1/4 inch thick

Cut the filet crosswise into 1-inch-thick slices. Season with salt and pepper on both sides. In a very large, heavy bottomed pan on medium-high heat, sauté the slices of beef in batches with 3 tablespoons of olive oil until browned on the outside and very rare inside, about 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Remove the filets from the pan and set aside on a platter.

In the same pan, sauté the bacon on medium-low heat for 5 minutes, until crisp. Remove the bacon and set it aside on a paper towel-lined plate. Drain all the fat, except 2 tablespoons, from the pan. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.

Deglaze the pan with the red wine and cook on high heat for 1 minute, scraping the bottom of the pan. Add the beef stock, tomato paste, thyme, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Bring to a boil and cook uncovered on medium-high heat for 10 minutes. Strain the sauce and return it to the pan. Add the onions and carrots and simmer uncovered for 35 to 45 minutes, until the sauce is reduced and the vegetables are cooked.

With a fork mash 2 tablespoons butter and the flour into a paste and whisk it gently into the sauce. Simmer for 2 minutes to thicken.

Meanwhile, sauté the mushrooms separately in 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon oil for about 10 minutes until browned and tender.

Add the filet of beef slices, the mushrooms and the bacon to the pan with the vegetables and sauce. Cover and reheat gently for 5 to 10 minutes.Do not overcook. Season to taste and serve immediately. (If making ahead, cool, then cover and refrigerate. Reheat over medium heat until heated through, about 15 minutes.)



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