Boeuf Bourguignon
Smack in the middle of France is the region of Bourgogne (Burgandy), where the pinot noir and chardonnay grapes are grown. The wine known in english as "a burgandy" - the pinot noir - is one of the great reds of France, and now vinted around the world. There they make a beautiful, vinous stew with salt pork, mushroom caps and small onions. This is beef in the style of Bourgogne - boeuf bourguignon.
  1. Trim meat of all exterior fat and any purplish "silverskin" membrane. Cut into even 1" cubes. Season meat well with salt, white pepper and paprika and set aside. Wrap the bay leaf, thyme, parsley, and peppercorns into a bit of cheesecloth and tie closed with a string. Set aside.
  2. Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in the bottom of a heavy pot until it just begins to smoke. Add the beef by small handfuls and sear on all sides. Remove seared beef to a platter. When all has been browned, reduce heat to medium and add the minced garlic. Cook briefly, taking care not to allow the garlic to burn. Return beef to the pot.
  3. Add the flour and cook until the flour begins to brown slightly, then add the tomato puree, red wine and beef stock, stirring while it comes to a boil.
  4. Add the bag with the peppercorns and bay leaf, cover tightly and put into a 325° oven for 1-1/2 to 2 hours, or until meat is tender when pierced with a fork.
  5. While the beef is braising, prepare the onions, pork and mushrooms.
    1. For the onions: Bring a few quarts of water to the boil, and fill a bowl with ice water. When the water boils, drop the onions it and let cook for 30 seconds. Transfer the onions from the boiling water to the ice water and let cool. The peels should be easy to remove. Keep boiling water warm.
    2. For the salt pork: Cut the salt pork into 'batonet' -- little sticks about 1/4" x 1/4" x 2".
    3. Add the batonets of salt pork to the boiling water and let boil for 30 seconds. This will remove some of the salt, making it more palatable. Take meat from the water, drain and pat dry.
    4. For the mushrooms: Wipe mushrooms with a damp paper towel and remove the stems.
  6. Saute the pork in a small saute pan until browned and crisp. Remove salt pork from the pan, leaving the fat. On high to medium-high heat saute the onions until nicely browned. Remove from pan. Saute the mushroom caps until lightly browned; remove. Mix the salt pork, onions and mushroom caps; set aside.
  7. When beef is tender, check sauce for seasoning and consistency. If too thick, add a little stock and/or wine. If too thin, mix a tablespoon of cornstarch with two tablespoons of cold water and stir into the bubbling sauce. When sauce is finished, add the garnish of salt pork, onions and mushroom caps. Cover and let set for five minutes off the heat.
  8. Serve with a fine whipped potato, or a fresh pasta or spaetzle.