There are few foods that bring about the warm fuzzies more than meat cooked low and slow. Braising, or searing ingredients in a delicious fat followed by stewing in liquid for a long period of time, is a style of cooking shared by nearly every civilization since the discovery of fire. Not only does it allow a cook to utilize tough cuts of meat that would otherwise be nearly inedible (or at least not particularly appetizing) but it allows the cook to set the flame to low and get about other business while the fire does all the work. Mundane ingredients (meat, veggies, broth…maybe a little wine if you’re feeling fancy, which I usually am) are transformed into a meal fit for the good china. This recipe requires cheap cuts of meat like chuck, brisket, shank and round and the resulting unctuousness will rival a perfectly cooked steak any day of the week.
Determined to recreate one of my favorite dishes, Julia Childs’ classic Boeuf Bourguignon, for my camping repertoire I turned to my old friend the pressure cooker.
Determined to recreate one of my favorite dishes, Julia Childs’ classic Boeuf Bourguignon, for my camping repertoire I turned to my old friend the pressure cooker. While I’m sure any pressure cooker will work GSI Outdoors makes a lighter weight anodized aluminum cooker that is compact and easy to use. (http://gsioutdoors.com/products/pdp/halulite_2.7_l_pressure_cooker)
I own both the 2.7L and the 5.7L but prefer the smaller pot for this dish. This recipe reduces the cook time from 4-5 hours to about 45 minutes; just enough time to drink a glass or two of that wine you opened and relax bit from your day of adventuring. This, my friends, is what we call kismet.
A few words on pressure cooking in general. Don’t go crazy on the amount of liquid in the pot, keep it just above the level of the meat. And do NOT under any circumstances fail to properly sear your meat and veggies. The Maillard reaction, which results in that brown crust you create when searing, is essential in developing the depth of flavor you need to make this dish so delectable.
Adapted from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking
Yield: 4 servings
2-3 Tbs. bacon fat, clarified butter or olive oil
2 lbs. stew meat; chuck, round, shank etc., but into 2 inch chunks
2 medium carrots, cut into large rounds
1 large onion, cut into quarters
1-2 cups strong bodied red wine: Merlot, Burgundy, Cabernet Sauvignon…whatevs
2-3 cups beef stock
2 Tbs. tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 twig fresh thyme
1 bay leaf, crushed but not pulverized (you need to remove after cooking, so don’t destroy it)
salt & pepper (to taste)
• Heat the fat on medium until it shimmers. Add a single layer of beef cubes, don’t crowd the pan or they won’t brown properly. You’ll need to do this in several batches.
• Cook each batch of cubes until each side has a dark crust. This will take some patience; don’t turn the pieces more than once. I find that each side needs about 3-5 full minutes of browning before turning.
• Place all beef cubes on a plate while you sear the onions & carrots. Again, be patient and get zen with the browning process.
• Add the beef cubes to the onion & carrots; add the garlic and tomato paste. Stir the paste a bit until it starts to darken just a bit.
• Turn heat to high. Deglaze the pan with the wine while stirring to get all the tasty bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the broth until it just covers the meat. Do not fill to the line on the cooker…this is too much liquid and will result it being bland. Add thyme & bay leaf and bring to a simmer.
• Secure the pressure cooker lid and leave on high until the regulator begins to rock in a steady motion. Turn down the temperature and keep the regulator rocking at a gentle pace.
• Cook for 45 minutes and turn the heat off. Let the pressure release naturally, this will take about 10-15 minutes or just enough time to make your egg noodles or potatoes. Remove the bay leaf & thyme. Add salt and pepper to taste.
• If you notice the broth is too watery after removing the lid, add a slurry of flour and water while whisking and let simmer for 5 minutes until it thickens up.
• Enjoy over egg noodles, mashed or boiled potatoes. Nomnomnom!