Not Julia Child's Beef in Red Wine Sauce
Julia Child, eat your heart out.
A couple of years ago, in the wake of the "Julie & Julia" movie, I went on a Julia Child kick and made several of her iconic recipes. Among them was her boeuf bourguignon. It was good, but not good enough for me to want to make it again. I probably did something wrong. Still, it seemed like it shouldn't be a terribly difficult dish to make and surely I could bastardize it to my own tastes.
Recently, I bought a big family pack of top round steak on sale at Checkers and I knew I'd want to braise it for best results. There's been a bottle of red wine sitting in my cupboard for nine long months, laughing at me, so tonight I broke it out. NOT TO DRINK, people. Stop waving your fingers at my hugely pregnant self. To cook with. I decided to make my own dumbed-down version of beef in red wine, and dang if it didn't suit my fancy just fine. Honestly, it was simple to do and downright delicious.
Megan's Beef in Red Wine Sauce
2 to 3 pounds braising steak (I used top round)
1 container fresh button mushrooms, quartered (about 3 cups)
1 white onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 bottle minus one glass of red wine (I swear, it wasn't me)
1 box beef broth (32 ounces)
3 cloves garlic
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons basil
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Salt and pepper
1 bag wide egg noodles
Start by heating the olive oil in a skillet over high heat. Cut the meat into 1-inch cubes, salt liberally, and as soon as the olive oil is good and hot, toss the meat in to brown. Resist the temptation to touch the meat too soon. You want to get it good and brown.
Meanwhile, start your braising liquid. Combine the wine, beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, bay leaves, soy sauce and a liberal dose of salt and pepper in a large stockpot. Bring it to a boil and take the lid off so it will begin to reduce.
As the meat browned, I tossed a couple of tablespoons of butter in, too, just because I could. I also threw my minced garlic cloves in with the meat about halfway through the browning process. When one side was brown, I turned it and then sprinkled about a tablespoon of cornstarch over it to thicken and help it brown. Once it was all brown, I tossed it into the braising liquid and then poured about 1/2 cup of braising liquid into the skillet to deglaze. I do not waste good fond. I moved all the fond into the cooking pot, because not doing so is wasteful and it's like having a party but failing to invite the most fun person you know. I mean, the party would still be good, but it would be that much better with that added guest.
I then tossed a diced onion and the quartered mushrooms into the pot, turned it onto medium low heat, and walked away. After about 45 minutes I removed the lid so the liquid would reduce.
At this point, it's time to boil some egg noodles and call together the troops. Egg noodles cook fast. I dipped about 1/2 cup of cooking liquid out of the pan and whisked in another tablespoon of cornstarch and added it back to the braising meat. By the time the noodles were done, the sauce was sufficiently thick (though not like a real gravy — that's not really what I was going for). Serve the beef and sauce atop a pile of noodles with a piece of good bread for sopping up the delicious brown liquid.
This is a great Saturday meal. It's not hard to put together, but it does take some time to do that browning and braising properly. Don't skimp on either step. It all results in meat that melts in your mouth and a big, old fashioned flavor party to go along with.