To continue with my “Making it with Your Own Hands” goal, here is a recipe that is a good weekend dinner, and is excellent to freeze the leftovers for quick a weeknight meal. In the Basil-Garlic Bread post I mentioned I purchased a Tyler Florence book – Stirring the Pot, which inspired me to become more organized. The thing that intrigued me the most about the book is the suggestion to use a freezer to the fullest, rather than it being a graveyard of freezer burned foods that go to waste in the end.
You know, I always liked the idea of buying in bulk to save money and trips to the grocery store. But it always seems I forget to “thaw” something for dinner and I end up looking in the freezer, walking away and deciding to go get something from the store when I have perfectly good food at home! On top of that, the only beef I will freeze is ground beef because steaks and other cuts have a different flavor after freezing/thawing that I don’t care for. Which Florence has some advice in his book about freezing meat, and it becomes very apparent to me why I don’t like frozen beef. (Note, I’m not saying you shouldn’t freeze for bulk it just doesn’t work for me. I do freeze whole chickens and pork ribs that are vacuum packed and they seem to work just the same).
Beef = 1 week
Whole chicken = 1 month
Food Safety rules (USDA online)
Beef = 4-12 months
Ground Beef = 3-4 months
Whole Poultry = 12 months
Chicken Pieces = 9 months
Florence’s advice is not for safety reasons, but for quality purposes! Think fresh food, not a year old chicken with ice crystals!
Freezer burn is when food dries out. The moisture from inside the food is squeezed out during the freezing process and forms ice crystals – so food is dehydrated during freezing. Makes sense now! Sauces, cooked vegetables, and other prepared meat dishes hold up well the in the freezer. Especially foods with sauces are ideal because there is plenty of moisture in sauce, so the food doesn’t dry out as fast. This is exactly the type of information I want to put to use and share with you. The only problem with Florence’s book is that he doesn’t really dive into that idea – he only touches on it at the beginning and leaves you wanting more ideas…(we I did anyway).
As I mentioned before, I like to cook new things on the weekend – when I have time to spend three hours or more on Beef Bourguignon, or a few hours to roast a whole chicken. On New Year’s weekend I made Ham and Beans and Beef Bourguignon. There was so much left over I was able to add some to the freezer for future dinners. So I saved two bags of Ham and Beans and one of Beef Bourguignon – with enough to make one dinner for both my daughter and I out of each bag. Tonight we took out the Beef Bourguignon, and it was just as good as the first round. Stews have sauces so they freeze well and because there are no potatoes in the Bourguignon it’s a good stew to freeze your left over – or make extra to freeze for another dinner.
You can always add the potatoes the day you reheat a dish. While this recipe is really great, I must say I still have to try Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon to really “test” this recipe. But for now this still is a really great recipe, I like the flavor of the rosemary with beefiness of this meal (that is not in Childs’s recipe).
Served with parmesan mashed potatoes and peas
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 bacon slices, cut into 3-inch strips
- 4 pounds beef chuck or round, cut into 2-inch cubes
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup Cognac (Brandy)
- 1/2 bottle dry red wine, such as Burgundy
- 5 cups low-sodium beef broth
- Bouquet garni (2 fresh rosemary sprigs, 8 fresh thyme sprigs, 2 bay leaves, tied together with kitchen twine or tied in cheesecloth)
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 pound white mushrooms, sliced thick
- 3 cups blanched and peeled pearl onions
- Pinch sugar
- Fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped, for garnish
Place a large Dutch oven over medium heat; drizzle with a 1/2-count of oil. Fry the bacon until crisp and then remove it to a paper towel; you’ll crumble it at the end and use it for garnish. Dry each piece of beef on a paper towel then add the beef to the pot in batches. Fry the cubes in the bacon fat until evenly browned on all sides; turn with tongs. Season with salt and pepper. (Don’t skimp on this step—it’s key.)
After the meat is browned, put it all back in the pot. Sprinkle the flour over the meat; then stir to make sure the beef is well coated and there are no flour lumps. Pour in the Cognac and stir to scrape up the flavorful bits in the bottom of the pan. Cook and stir to evaporate the alcohol. Pour in the red wine and beef broth; then add the tomato paste and bouquet garni. Stir everything together and bring the pot up to a simmer. Cook until the liquid starts to thicken and has the consistency of a sauce; this should take about 15 minutes. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 1 hour.
Uncover the pot and add the garlic, pearl onions, and mushrooms, along with the pinch of sugar to balance out the acid from the red wine. Season with salt and pepper. Turn the heat up slightly and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes longer, until the vegetables and meat are tender. Remove the bouquet garni and then stir in the butter to finish up the sauce. Shower with chopped parsley and the reserved crumbled bacon before serving. Deep and rich flavor!