Sunday, April 17, 2011

February's Recipe: Boeuf à la Mode

Buffalo Mode.

That's what my family is calling it.

Technically, it's Boeuf à la Mode, so their phonetically very close.  It's a Julia Child's recipe, similar to her superduper famous Boeuf Bourguignon.  I decided not to be so cliché as to make it, but my family loooved this one! It's a roast that's braised in red wine...& I tend to think that a.n.y.t.h.i.n.g that is cooked in wine (over water and particularly oil) is worthy of enormous praise!

This was technically February's recipe, but February was so up in the air with moving that I had to postpone.  Good thing for my family, because they are getting two awesome meals in March!

This recipe was extremely time consuming (much like this blog post), but can be prepared ahead of time.  If I had marinated the night before, that would have been better. It was also expensive. While my family loved it and couldn't stop asking when the next time I would make it would be, we agreed it was a special-occasion-once-a-year sort of dish.

I served the meat with braised carrots and small white boiler onion.  I meant to serve it with red potatoes, but I completely forgot to put them in the oven.  No potatoes.

Total cook time: 12 hours, but mostly prep work.  This is a still cook meal & you should prepare the the roast to be in the oven for about 3 hours.

Serves: 10-12 technically, but more like 6 when you forget about the dang potatoes.

What you need!: 2 pounds of carrots, 1 white onion, 3-4 celery stalks, 1 garlic clove, 1 1/4 tb thyme, 3 bay leaves, 1/2 bunch fresh parsley, 2 cloves, 5+ lb of braising beed trimmed & tied (I used rump pot roast, but a top round or a chuck roast would work too), 5 cups (2 bottles) of a young red wine (I used Burgundy; Pinot Noir or Chianti would work well), 1/3 cup Brandy, Olive Oil, 6 tb cooking oil (I used Olive Oil again), 6 1/2 cups beef stock or bouillon, 1 pound bacon (or you can use calf's feet or pork rind...bacon worked well for me), 1 tb granulated sugar/splenda, 3 tb butter, 24-36 small white boiling onions, 1 tb cornstarch, 2 tb Madiera or port

Equipment: Large marinade bowl, A fireproof casserole or roaster large enough to hold the meat & ingrediants with a lid, tongs that hold the meat (heavy duty), heavy covered sauce pan, covered frying pan, serving platter, a slotted spoon, sauceboat (warmed), loads of utensils. Also, an old, long-sleeved t-shirt (trust me).

 1. Peel & slice 1 cup each of carrots, the white onion & celery.  For spices, prepare 2 halved garlic cloves (unpeeled), 1 tb thyme, 2 bay leave, 1/3 cup fresh minced parsley, 2 whole cloves, salt & pepper to tasted.

2. Place half of the vegetables, herbs & spices in the bottom of the marinade bowl.

 3. Put the meat in the bowl & spread the rest of the herbs and spices over the meat.

 4. Add 5 cups wine (almost 2 bottles), 1/2 cup of olive oil & 1/3 cup Brandy to the marinade. Drool a little, but be careful not to drool in the bowl.

5. Cover the marinade & refrigerated for at least 6 hours or up to one day. Every hour or so, turn & baste the meat.  I like to call this "Rubbing the Rump"

***** Wash potatoes well & slice them in halves.  Completely disregard them when it comes time to put them in the oven. *****

 6. When you are nearly ready to cook the meat, drain it over the sink on a rack for at least 30 minutes. Before browning, dry it completely with loads of paper towels (it won't brown if its moist)

7. Preheat oven to 350 degrees & remove all but one oven rack on the lowest possible position. Put on a long sleeved shirt that can get ruined ( me)

Our antique roaster that hasn't been used in at least a decade...probably longer.

8. Add 4 to 6 tb rendered pork fat or olive oil to the roaster.

Our grilling tongs that are enormous.  They made moving/turning the roast so much easier, though!

9. When the oil/fat is smoking, brown the roast on all sides for about 15 minutes total. If you aren't wearing a long sleeved shirt, prepare to get popped by the boiling oil.

Toastin' My Roast.

10. Pour in the wine/veggie marinade. Boil it down rapidly until it is reduced by about half.  Stay in the kitchen because this smell is TO DIE FOR!

11. Add you body flavor, whichever you choose.  I chose uncooked bacon (about 3/4 pound).  Julia recommended veal knuckles, calf's feet, rind, etc. No thanks. Also add about 4 to 6 cups of beef stock or bouillon, setting aside 1/2 cup unused bouillon for the onions. The liquid should come about 2/3 up the way of the roast.

12. Bring the liquid to a simmer on the stovetop, skim off the fat & cover tightly.  Set the casserole/roaster in the oven & regulate heat to that the liquid simmers for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Yowza!

13. Turn the meat every 30-45 minutes. 

14. I chose to prepare my sides an hour after putting the roast in the oven. I made Carrots Braised in Butter & Brown-braised Onions.  I cooked these simultaneously.

15. Peel & quarter 1 1/2 lb carrots.  Add carrots, 1 1/2 cup water, 1 1/2 tb butter, 1 tb granulated sugar (I used splenda 'cause that's what I do), 1/2 tsp salt & a pinch of pepper for a 2 quart sauce pan. Bring to a boil.

16. Cover & continue to boil slowly for 30-40 minutes until the carrots are tender & the liquid is gone, starting the onions at step 17.  At the end, I watched for the last 5 minutes so they wouldn't burn.  Season to taste & set aside to be reheated when the meat is almost done.

17. Bubble 1 1/2 tb butter & 1 1/2 tb olive oil in a skillet.

18. Add peeled white small onions to the skillet & roll the onions in the skillet.  You want them to brown evenly, but it's unrealistic to think they will be uniform. Be careful not to break their skin with too much heat.

19. Pour in 1/2 cup brown stock/bouillon to the onions, add salt & pepper & a medium sized herb bouquet of 4 sprigs of parsley, 1/2 bay leaf & a 1/4 tsp thyme tied in cheesecloth. Cover & simmer slowly for about 45 minutes until the onions are completely tender but still retain their shape & the liquid is evaporated. Toss the herb bouquet, remove from heat & set aside until you are ready to reheat & serve.

**I'm not going to lie...I wrapped my herbs in a papertowel since I didn't have the cheesecloth to make a bouquet.**

20. After 2 hours, check your meat's internal temperature.  Mine was (very) well-done (but not at all dry) at 180F , though I would have preferred medium-well at around 165-170F. When the meat is at the appropriate temperature & tender, remove it to the platter. Reduce the heat of the oven to "Warm" or the lowest possible setting.

21. Toss the strings & trim the fat.  Keep the meat warm by placing it back in the low heat oven until the sauce is ready (10-15 min.)

Nice shot, Ryan!

22. Skim the fat off of the juices & stain them through a sieve into a saucepan.  Press the liquid out of the vegetables. Simmer for a minute, then boil rapidly until the liquid reduces to about 3 1/2 cups.  Taste and carefully season.

23.  Thicken the sauce with a mixture of dissolved cornstarch in 2 tb Madeira/port wine and simmer for 3 minutes.

24.  Add the cooked carrots and onions and simmer for another two minutes to mix the flavors

25. Remove the vegetables & arrange around the roast.  Decorate with parsley.  Pour some of the sauce over the meat and place the rest in a warm gravy boat.

26. Enjoy, then pass out from a food coma and slaving in the kitchen all day.


  1. I'm making this tonight! I already have the meat marinating. That's a great idea to use the bacon as the body flavor. I thanks for calf knuckles...
    Thank you so much for posting your step-by-step with pictures!

  2. i made this once before and it was fabulous
    can remember what cut of meat i used though
    rookie mistake but i used pork rind free from
    the brazilian butcher this time i will use bacon

    this is better than the boeuf bourg. from the movie

    will try to repeat for canadian in law visit

    thanks for the pix