Last Sunday, Jacob and I made the trek out to Campe Verde with two pounds of local, grass-fed beef and a bottle of wine in tow. Oh yes, it was time for me to attempt beef bourguignon and who better to experiment on than family. I know, how Julie & Julia of me.
My dad and his wife Kris live on a beautiful Hill Country ranch with one Scottish Terrier, two horses, a herd of Scimitar-horned Oryx, and various furry squatters. Over the past couple years, they have added two blocks of grapevines to the landscape and will be bottling their first wine next year. The ranch is a unique and entirely lovely mash-up of French country living meets African safari.
With the help of my ever obliging and eternally patient sous chef, the dinner came together without a hitch. In case any of you are curious, for this dish I familiarized myself with several recipes (including Julia Child’s famous work) then left it to instinct and the will of the culinary gods as I cooked. Really though, how can one go wrong with meat, wine, potatoes, shallots, and herbs? The house was soon suffused with such a mouth-watering aroma we were forced to beat a hasty retreat downstairs to while away the time watching the World Equestrian Games.
Two hours of jumping and eventing later we tucked into the mound of beefy goodness with a will. In my naiveté, I thought we would have leftovers. Instead, plates were cleaned, the pot was scraped, and one lucky ladle was licked.
After dinner, sated and full-bellied, we took the Jeep out to enjoy the land.
As the light turned gold, we settled down to enjoy a glass of wine and watch the herd graze beside the sun-flecked pond.
It was a lovely finish to a lovely weekend and I will certainly be making this dish again soon.
- 2 lbs beef stew meat, cut into roughly 1 ½ inch chunks
- ¼ cup flour
- 7 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1 ½ lb potatoes, cut into 1″ pieces
- 1 lb shallots
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 carrots, chopped into ½ – 1” pieces
- 2 stalks of celery, chopped into ½ – 1” pieces
- ¼ cup brandy
- 1 bottle Burgundy or Shiraz-Grenache
- 2 cups beef broth
- 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 1 large sprig of fresh rosemary
- 1 bunch fresh sage, leaves picked from stem
- 1 small bunch of thyme, leaves picked from stem
- Coarse sea salt to taste
- Pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
In a large bowl, quickly toss the beef with the flour to thinly coat. Heat 2-3 Tbsp. butter in a heavy casserole or Dutch oven (cast iron Le Creuset are perfect) over medium- high heat. Working in batches, brown the beef on all sides and set aside. Deglaze the pot with a bit of broth before returning all beef to it. Add the brandy and simmer over high heat until it has evaporated.
Melt another 2-3 Tbsp. butter in a non-stick frying pan, quickly brown the shallots and set aside. Do the same for the potatoes, adding in the garlic about half way through.
Add the potatoes, shallots, carrots, celery, wine, 1 ½ cups of broth and the herbs to the pot, season with salt and pepper, and bring to a simmer.
Stir in the tomato paste, scrape any caramelized juices from the side of the pot, cover and transfer to the oven. Cook for 2-3 hours, checking periodically and adding the remaining ½ cup of beef broth if necessary. Remove when the sauces have thickened and the dish resembles a hearty stew. Fish out the rosemary sprig and discard. Serve and enjoy with bread if desired.