Alcohol free beef bourguignon…daring cooks May 2012

Our May 2012 Daring Cooks’ hostess was Fabi of fabsfood. Fabi challenged us to make Boeuf Bourguignon, a classic French stew originating from the Burgundy region of France.

I think I am one of many who the mere mention of beef bourguignon brings back images from Julie and Julia

But when  I first saw that beef bourguignon was this month’s challenge my first idea was to sit this one out. Being a muslim I don’t drink alcohol or cook with it and beef bourguignon is a dish based on red wine.I mean wine is not just an ingredient in the dish, it is basically what the dish revolves around. Then as I was reading other people’s comments on the challenge in the forum I came across quite a few asking if there was a way to make this dish alcohol free, be it for religious reasons , being pregnant or recovering alcoholics. Realizing I was not the only one seeking an alcohol free version,I decided to at least research if it was possible.

I came across many recipes that used a combination of broth, grape juice and grape vinegar to replace the wine with differing proportions. There was also a variety of additions ranging from tomato paste to soya sauce. Many said it was not the same, others said it was even better. I decided to give it a go, there was really nothing to lose and I am after all a daring cook.What follows is the recipe that I used, based on tasting and tweaking along the way.

To tell you the truth I was really nervous about this one, I was worried the whole pot would end up down the drain. As the beef cooked and the aromas filled the house, my daughter came into the kitchen and announced that this will be a success, she can tell how good a recipe is by the smell of it cooking and this was going to be a great one.

She was right.

The dish was a big hit, the flavors blended in so well, it was not overly sweet nor acidic. The meat was cooked to the point of melting in your mouth and the mushrooms onions and carrots added just the right texture

Now to spare myself the  lectures about this being a beef stew not beef bourguignon, I have to tell you that I have never tried the real beef bourguignon and don’t know how well my recipe compares to the original but all I know is it was fun to try and experiment and that we all loved it so much that I will be making it again for sure. If you have ever made Julia Child’s beef bourguignon,I would love it if you would give my recipe a try and then let me know how close or how far you think I got it. Anyone up for the challenge? In the name of science?

BOEUF BOURGUIGNON

Ingredients for 4 people:

Ingredients

1  pound stewing beef cut into 2 inches (5 cm) cubes

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 1/2 tablespoons flour

1 1/2 cups red grape juice (100% juice no sugar added)

1/2 cup red grape vinegar

2 carrot, sliced

1 onion, sliced in julienne

3 cups  beef stock (preferably home made, remember you want something rich with flavor to enhance the flavor)

1 tablespoon tomato paste or tomato puree

2 cloves mashed garlic

½ teaspoon thyme leaves

1 bay leave

12 small onions, brown-braised in stock

250 grams mushrooms sautéed in butter

Directions:

1.Dry the meat cubes carefully with paper towels.

2.In a casserole/pan, sauté the beef until it’s golden brown. Remove it to a side dish and set aside.
3.Still in the same casserole/pan, sauté the carrot and the onion.

4.Return the beef to the casserole. Sprinkle it with salt and pepper, then add the flour and toss.

5. Stir in the juice,vinegar, stock, tomato paste, mashed garlic cloves, thyme, bay .

6.Bring it to simmering point on the stove.

7.Cover the pot and place it on very low heat and simmer for 3 hours.

8.While the stew is cooking, prepare onions and mushrooms. For the onions: Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a frying pan and sauté the peeled onions until golden brown. Add beef stock until they’re almost covered and simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until almost all the liquid disappears and they’re tender but keep their shape. Set aside.
9.Prepare the mushrooms as well: quarter and sauté them in 2 tablespoons butter. Keep on stirring until they’re nicely brown. Set aside.
10.When meat is tender,  Put onions and mushrooms over the meat.

11.Skim the fat off. Simmer for 2-3 minutes. Skim additional fat if it rises. The sauce should be thick enough to coat a spoon. If not, boil it until it thickens. If it’s too thick, stir in some stock or bouillon to make it lighter.

12.Serve  and enjoy :) Some goods sides are potatoes, noodles or rice.

Freezing/Storage Instructions/Tips: You can keep leftovers in the fridge for 2-3 days. If you want to freeze it, it lasts up to 3 months.