I agonized over the title of this recipe. The end result is a Beef Stew, but that sounds so pedestrian. And it’s so delicious — shouldn’t I give it a fancier name than that? After all, the ingredients were adapted from the venerable Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon recipe that begins on page 271 of her 1968 classic, “The French Chef Cookbook.”
The first sentence in the headnote preceding her recipe reads “…beef Bourguignon is the best beef stew known to man.” Certainly I must recreate some version of this classic.
But our techniques to make the dish are so dissimilar that I cringed at the thought of your response had I chosen that name. If I was daunted by the four pages of instruction and garniture, I imaged you might be, as well.
You see, I simply put the ingredients in a Crock-Pot and simmered them for several hours to make the stew. In the last half hour of cooking, I thickened the stew with a flour-butter paste, but that was the extent of my “technique.” I’m sure similar results could be accomplished using a Dutch oven or a large, heavy casserole.
Julia Child suggests a full-bodied Macon, Burgundy or Mountain Red. I took the liberty of using a good Pinot Noir. I also added potatoes to the stew for heft, and carrots because I like their flavor and color when stewed with beef. Both may be omitted, of course. The remaining ingredients are, for the most part, the same as in the Julia Child recipe.
During the busy holiday season, we yearn for elegant classics but have little time to reenact them. Not so the recipe below. You could assemble the ingredients (your mise en place) and set your table the night before a dinner party. The morning of your party, place them in your Crock-Pot to simmer, and head to work. On the way home, pick up a baguette and a soft-ripening cheese for an appetizer, and ingredients for a simple green leaf salad. Have a friend bring dessert.
In the end, I’m satisfied with the name I selected for the following recipe. It’s more lyrical than Beef Pinot Noir, and it does the stew justice. Julia Child wrote, “When beef stew is in the oven, all’s right with the world.” I would add the world seems a better place when beef is stewing in the Crock-Pot.
Make-ahead notes: May be made 1-3 days in advance, then reheated prior to serving.
(Equipment Requirements: I used a 6 1/2 quart eLume slow cooker. I purchased the slow cooker two years ago at Bed, Bath and Beyond. At the time, it cost $79 using a 20-percent off coupon.)