Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Marvin Woods' Roux, Creole Sauce and Seafood Gumbo

With Mardi Gras this past Tuesday, Lent is upon us, and thoughts turn to the cuisine of New Orleans. Last year I made a delicious ham and shrimp jambalaya, but this year building on my success with a turkey gumbo the day after Thanksgiving that my family literally could not wait for me to finish before they started dipping spoons in for a taste, it was gonna be gumbo. Gumbo is a delicious stew with no hard and fast rules beyond whether one chooses okra (I found some that I had frozen in my freezer) or file powder (ground sassafras leaves) as a thickener in addition to the required roux. Like choucroute, gumbo is great for using sausage, poultry and leftover meats, and like paella it's great for combining sausage and seafood, though poultry could also be a welcome addition. I knew that I would be making a seafood gumbo with andouille sausage and I wanted to serve it with some New Orleans beer that I found at Bassin's MacArthur Beverages, a full service liquor store on my way home from work.

Making gumbo Marvin Woods' way requires some preliminary steps like making roux and the creole sauce, but those steps can be done well in advance. I made my roux and creole sauce on a Sunday and then made the gumbo for dinner on Thursday, but the dish could easily be started and finished in a few hours. Non-southerners tend to balk at the slime factor associated with okra (which makes it a natural thickener), so I used okra in the sauce and served some homemade spicy pickled okra as a garnish on the side with the final dish.

The secret to the success of this gumbo is the creole sauce, which though uncomplicated to prepare, does have a lot of ingredients and you'll note that most of the vegetable and herb ingredients in the sauce are again used in the gumbo. The recipe I followed is from Woods' The New Low-Country Cooking, which is full of so many delicious southern preparations. I preferred Woods' recipe to any I've seen including the one offered by one of New Orleans' biggest proponents, Emeril Legasse in one of his cookbooks. I also love making the roux in the oven, completely eliminating having to stand over it stirring as the roux progresses from blonde to nutty brown. This step I completed while making Sunday breakfast. If you decide to make this recipe in a single day, you'll need about double the amounts of the vegetables and herbs called for in the creole sauce, which will save a bit of time prepping if you cut it all up at once.

Seafood Gumbo
Adapted from The New Low-Country Cooking by Marvin Woods

Makes about 1 1/4 cups

This recipe will make twice as much roux as needed for the gumbo. The leftover amount can be refrigerated for up to a month and is an excellent base for making smothered green beans and potatoes.

2 sticks unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups flour

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt the butter in a cast iron skillet over medium heat until it starts to turn a light brown, keeping an eye on it so that it doesn't burn. Whisk in the flour, combining it with the butter until there are no lumps. Place the skillet in the oven for 30 to 45 minutes checking it every 15 minutes or so until the roux turns the color of peanut butter.

Creole Sauce:
Makes about 3 quarts, which is twice the amount needed for the gumbo

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups sliced okra (fresh or frozen), about 3/4 pound
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 white onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 cup fresh or frozen corn [I used half a can]

2 1/2 quarts vegetable or chicken stock
1/2 cup brown roux
1 cup canned whole plum tomatoes [I used a small can of diced tomatoes]
2 tablespoons hot sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh thyme
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh rosemary
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh sage
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon Thai curry paste or garlic chili sauce
1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper
salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a 6 to 8 quart heavy-bottomed stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the vegetables (celery through corn) and cook until softened, stirring occasionally for 5 to 7 minutes. Add the vegetable stock and bring to a slow boil.
  2. When the liquid is boiling, remove about a cup and mix it with the roux, forming a smooth paste. Whisk the roux mixture back into the pot of simmering vegetables. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes, hot sauce, herbs, chili powder, cayenne, chili paste, and black pepper and simmer for 15 minutes, reducing the liquid somewhat. Taste and check the seasonings, adding more salt and pepper as necessary. Using a handheld blender, puree the sauce in the pot (or transfer in batches to a blender or food processor). Use the sauce immediately or cool, cover and refrigerate for up to 7 days, or freeze for up to two months.
Seafood Gumbo:
Serves 6 to 8

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 links of andouille, about 12 ounces [my addition]
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped [I was out of onion and used 3 leeks]
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 to 3 sliced serranos, finely chopped

1 cup fresh or frozen corn [I used half a can]
1 1/2 cups sliced okra (fresh or frozen), about 3/4 pound
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1 tablespoons fresh rosemary
1 tablespoons fresh sage

6 cups creole sauce, about half of the above recipe
1 pound striped bass cut into 1 inch pieces [I used tilapia]
1/2 pound mussels, scrubbed and debearded [we love mussels so I used 1 1/2 pounds, especially as I omitted the crabmeat]
1 pound shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 pound crabmeat, picked over
salt and pepper to taste
steamed rice

In an 8 quart stockpot, heat the oil over medium high heat. Cook the andouille sausage until browned on one side and turn to brown the other side, about 8 minutes in total. Remove the sausage to a plate and reserve. Add the celery, onion, and peppers and cook until softened about 5 minutes. Lower the heat to medium and stir in the corn, okra, and herbs, cooking another 5 minutes. Add in all the seafood and stir gently, cooking until the shrimp has just turned pink. Pour in about 6 cups of the creole sauce and bring to a simmer. Meanwhile slice the sausage links diagonally into 4 or 5 pieces and add to the gumbo. Serve the gumbo over steamed rice, perhaps with your favorite hot sauce on the side.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Mario Batali's Braised Lamb Shanks

Readers of this blog probably know that braising is one of my favorite ways to cook, especially certain vegetables like leeks and cabbage and of course beef cuts like ribs and roasts. For almost a year and a half--probably ever since I got my braising bible, All About Braising by Molly Stevens--I had been inquiring for lamb shanks at my farmers market, to no avail. I don't know what first turned me on to these lamb cuts, but I knew they were in my future. Unfortunately they were always sold out or just not available every time I went to the market. Finally I got a yes back in December and I tucked those two shanks into my freezer knowing that some winter Sunday I would get back to those babies.

Well Oscar Sunday was the day! It was one of those Sundays where I just wanted to be in the kitchen. The day started with a pancake breakfast that included scrambled eggs called migas and also included making Marvin Woods' roux and creole sauce in preparation for a Mardi Gras gumbo to be made later in the week (but that's for another blog entry). But the highlight of the day was to be the braised lamb shanks, which I'd planned to simmer in the oven while working on the creole sauce on top of the stove.

The only dilemma was what recipe to follow. Before Christmas I'd bought Two Dudes One Pan: Maximum Flavor from a Minimalist Kitchen because of the chapter on Dutch ovens that includes a delicious looking recipe for braised lamb shanks with fennel, carrots, and onions. I was all set to go with that preparation until I looked through Mario Batali's Molto Italiano, and found the braised lamb shanks with orange and olives. After some back and forth, I had to go with Mario because I continue to be intrigued by braised dishes that include fruit and meat, especially after falling in love with my first ever braised ribs recipe (note my review from 1/27/06). The combo of meat cooked with kumquats, prunes, or apricots along with some piquant elements like olives or capers offers a rich balance of flavors that smells mouthwatering as it cooks. The orange rind lost most of its bitterness and became completely edible and delicious after stewing in the delicious sauce.

As with the beef Burgundy I'd made for Valentine's Day, I wanted to make the dish early enough so that it could cool and marinate in its juices before a quick reheat just before serving. This was easily accomplished as the braise only took 90 minutes or so. Plus the lamb shank is a fatty and tender cut with tendons and collagen galore. The cooked meat was very tender and the sauce thickened beautifully. Next time I will use my fat separator to eliminate some of the fat before serving, however.

Braised Lamb Shanks with Oranges and Olives
Adapted from Molto Italiano by Mario Batali
Serves 4

4 lamb shanks [As this was my first time cooking lamb shanks, I only bought two so that I could learn more about cooking this cut. I kept the other ingredient amounts the same though]
salt and pepper [I used salt and fennel spice rub]
4 tablespoons of olive oil
2 red onions, chopped
12 cloves of garlic, smashed and peeled [rough chop if you feel like it]
1 navel orange cut into 8 pieces [I used a blood orange whose flesh completely dissolved into the sauce]
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 cup gaeta olives [I used pitted kalamata and green olives]
1 cup dry white wine [I used vermouth]
1 cup homemade marinara [I used jarred sauce, but a small can of diced tomatoes with their liquid would do]
1 cup chicken stock [I used vegetable]
zest of one orange

  1. Season the shanks all over with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil to medium high in a Dutch oven and brown the shanks about 8 minutes before turning once to brown the other side another 8 minutes. Remove to a platter. [My shanks were a bit longer than the diameter of my 5.5 quart Le Creuset Dutch oven--which made me want the oval version--so next time I'll be using my mack daddy All-Clad 8 quart stockpot, which I really only break out on rare occasions to feed a crowd, but it can also go in the oven.]
  2. Lower your oven rack to the bottom third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees. [Mario says 375, but I follow Molly Stevens and usually braise at 325, which I often end up lowering down to 310.] Remove all but two tablespoons of oil from the pot, reduce the heat to medium, and add the chopped onions, garlic cloves, and orange pieces. Cook stirring occasionally until the onions have softened, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Deglaze the pan with the wine, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom. Add the marinara, stock, rosemary and olives and bring to a boil for a few minutes to allow the sauce to come together.
  3. Add the shanks back to the pot and reduce to a simmer. The shanks should not be fully immersed in the sauce, only about halfway or so. Cover the shanks with a piece of parchment paper larger than the diameter of the pot. Push down on the paper so that it sits just above the top of the shanks and cover the pot with its lid (the edges of the paper will overhang the pot). Place in the oven and bask in the aromas as this dish does its magic. After 15 minutes, check that the meat is not simmering too vigorously and adjust the temperature as necessary to maintain a slow simmer. After the meat has been in the oven for 45 minutes, turn the pieces over and cook for another 45 minutes until the meat is fork tender.
  4. Remove from the oven and place the shanks on a serving platter to rest for 10 minutes. If desired, strain the sauce into a fat separator, reserving the cooked vegetables to garnish the shanks. Pour some of the de-fatted sauce over the shanks and pass the rest on the side. Finally, garnish your platter with the orange zest.
This dish cries out to be served with something like couscous or polenta (my choice this past Sunday), but boiled or mashed potatoes would do just as nicely. Buon Apetito!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentine's Day Dinner: Boeuf Bourguignon

Last Valentine's Day was memorable to me because my partner cooked for me, which was a pleasant surprise and a lesson for me in letting go of my control freak kitchen tyrant. This year was a different story as we were entertaining my partner's father and his girlfriend over Valentine's Day which happened to be the Saturday of the long Presidents' Day holiday weekend in 2009. Granted spending Valentine's Day with one's parents is not my idea of a romantic evening, but truth be told I place too much emphasis on this day of forced romance. And as I love to cook and entertain family and friends, the day worked out fine as far as I'm concerned. Brian and I still snuck in some romance, believe me! And I got to use up some of the many bottles of wine we got for Christmas this year!

Braising is to winter what grilling is to summer: the best way to prepare meats when you want to capture the essential flavors of the season. As with any cooking technique and the right cookbook (Molly Stevens All About Braising is my bible), you can explore the world and really improve your culinary repertoire. Having made the beef Burgundy (the English name is so much easier to type than the French one) for Valentine's Day this year, I'm contemplating what to make next, perhaps braised ribs or sauerbraten. In fact, I just heard from my beef purveyor, Blue Mountain Beef, and I'll be getting another beef sirloin tip roast and anticipate making ropa vieja or daube de boeuf next.

Three things inspire me to cook: 1) watching cooking shows, especially those on The Food (-porn) Network, 2) learning to appreciate other countries through food culture, and 3) exploring cooking techniques that include the possibility of buying new equipment, such as a grill (gas or charcoal?), an ice cream maker, a Dutch oven (which Le Creuset refers to as a French oven not suprisingly!) etc. My partner bought me my first Le Creuset piece for Christmas years ago, and it is a true work horse in my kitchen helping me to turn out everything from gumbo to fried chicken (better than cast iron), to sauteed collard greens. But this heavy pot really turns out the best oven braised dishes, with its tight fitting lid and enameled cast iron. In fact to avoid scorching my simmering marinara on the stovetop, I've taken to simmering it using the Dutch oven in a 325 degree oven. I use this beloved piece of equipment so frequently that I don't even question how expensive it was ($140 6 or 7 years ago) and in fact owning this piece of cookware has certainly inspired me to explore recipes like pork loin braised in milk, real baked beans, and coq au vin. I even kept a Christmas gift I'd bought for my brother (Two Dudes, One Pan) because leafing through it I found the section on the Dutch oven and wanted to try the recipes myself, especially the braised lamb shanks! (Don't worry though. I did get him a gift that he seemed to love, the Watchmen graphic novel.)

The last time I made beef burgundy, I'm sure I made it in my slow cooker, which is another piece of invaluable kitchen equipment that I'll rhapsodize on someday. I followed the recipe in The Gourment Slow Cooker and consulted Julia Child and Jacques Pepin's version for notes. The dish turned out fine, but I think I may have been at a point of my culinary progression where I didn't fully appreciate the utility of the Dutch oven vs. the slow cooker. I mean it's just easier to make things in the slow cooker compared to the oven, but lately I'm starting to think that my slow cooker only cooks on high and I very much did not want to boil the meat but gently simmer it. Molly Stevens, my braising guru, doesn't even own a slow cooker and doesn't recommend making any of her recipes using one. (The cooking elites eschew convenience which is why you'll never see Ina Garten melt chocolate in a microwave let alone make a dish in a slow cooker! That's what Sandra Lee and Paula Deen are for!)

I was familiar with Julia's and Jacques' beef Burgundy recipe from Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home and recalled that the doyenne had written a recipe sidebar that recommended making the dish over the course of a few days so that it won't seem like so much work. "Simmer the stew the next day while you are eating dinner or playing tennis..." LOL!! However, anyone who's ever made chili knows that it tastes better the next day so I did want to at least cook the meat a day ahead. Plus, the less one has to do on the day the dish is served the more time spent with guests and the less stress all around. We should all strive to be happy in the kitchen, rather than striving to serve the perfect dish.

I also liked how the mushrooms and pearl onions are cooked separately from the meat. Because I knew we'd be out sightseeing all afternoon on Valentine's Day, I was pleased that I was able to saute the onions and mushrooms (as well as make profiteroles for dessert) in the morning and just add them to the pot and put the whole shebang in the fridge to steep and meld all day. Brilliant!

Finally, I'm somewhat surprised at how many foodies are blogging about Julia's boeuf Bourguignon from 1961's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, as if a recipe from 1961 needs no enhancement. I'm sure Julia herself did not always make the dish the same way if she's like anyone else in the kitchen who's always tweaking recipes. I had to search high and low for someone who's following the more contemporary incarnation of this classic recipe found in Julia's and Jacques' collaboration, which is a pretty simple beef braise unlike Ina Garten's update on the classic found in her first cookbook using beef tenderloin (gasp!). I did find one blogger who's way more enthusiastic about the 1999 recipe than the 1961 version (and took great pictures), and he agreed with me after having made the 1961 recipe just once that the extra steps involved do not make the extra effort worthwhile.

I also cut out the step of boiling the salt pork because I started with plain old unsmoked bacon to prepare the lardons. I also used way less than a bottle of wine--perhaps a cup and a half at most--because from reading Molly Stevens and from following the steps in cooking my first ever braised dish the liquid should only come up 1/3 to half as high as the level of the meat so as to cook the meat partly by a gentle a simmer and partly by steam. Next time I might take an additional optional step to reduce a bottle of wine down to a cup and a half or so, but I just used an unfinished bottle of cabernet sauvignon, not the recommended Pinot Noir, but definitely a full-bodied red! I would estimate I added only about three cups of liquid to my Dutch oven, including the liquid from the canned tomatoes.

To keep the steam level no higher than the top of the meat, use a piece of parchment larger in diameter than the Dutch oven (or possibly foil but I wouldn't choose foil because the acid in the sauce can react with the aluminum and leech into your dish) to create a barrier that will collect condensation and drip back onto the meat, basting it as it cooks. Using this technique you'll want to turn the meat so that the parts in the liquid are exchanged with the parts outside the liquid every 45 minutes or so.

One last thing: the cut of meat is obviously very important in this preparation. Though chuck is recommended for its fattiness, connective tissue, and price, I used a beef sirloin tip roast which was recommended by my butcher and I was beyond pleased with the result. Because beef sirloin tip is not fatty and does not have a lot of visible connective tissue, I was quite concerned that my dish would be tough and dried out. Google led me to this chowhound thread that had some good cautionary advice and success stories as well as confirmation that slow cookers may not be the best choice for a braise like this.

As this is one of those dishes that tastes better the next day, I would recommend cooking it in stages, starting the evening before you intend to serve this dish, if not sooner. Without further ado, here is my take on this delicious recipe:

Boeuf Bourguignon
Adapted from Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home
Serves 4 to 6

2 tablespoons olive oil
5 or 6 slices of thick cut bacon (5 ounces), cut into half inch pieces [they recommend salt pork for the lardons which requires a ten minute boil to reduce its saltiness before cutting and sauteeing; see Belm Blog for reference]
One 3 to 4 pound beef sirloin tip or chuck roast, trimmed of excess fat and cut into two inch cubes, approximately 2-3 pieces per person [I used a fairly lean beef sirloin tip roast so I left most of its fat in place and used those pieces to nibble at various stages; packaged stewing meat is NOT recommended]
salt and pepper

1 large onion diced
2 large carrots, cut into 1/4 inch circles [they recommend peeling and dicing but there's no point to that because these veggies and herbs are all discarded]
6 sprigs of fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried
3 bay leaves
A handful of parsley stems and leaves
10-12 garlic cloves lightly crushed with skins left on

1 large tomato, cored and chopped [I used a 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes]
1 1/2 cups sturdy red wine, pinot noir or chianti recommended [I used cabernet sauvignon]
1 to 2 cups dark stock [I used super dark homemade chicken stock, but beef stock makes the most sense]

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
8 to 12 ounces cremini, button, or shiitake mushrooms (or any combination), halved quartered or whole (uniform size); or all mushrooms sliced thick
20 to 40 pearl onions, thawed and drained if using frozen, otherwise you'll have to blanch and peel fresh ones (step 5 below)
1 teaspoon of sugar [optional IMHO and I did not use]
salt and pepper
3/4 cup braising liquid, stock, or water
1/4 cup brandy [not in J & J's recipe]

2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup red wine [optional IMHO, but frankly I forgot this ingredient]
1/4 cup chopped parsley

  1. Optional first step: While browning the bacon and prepping the meat, reduce your wine to 1 1/2 cups in a small saucepan placed over medium high heat. This step is not at all necessary but if you planned to use a full bottle of wine--which I think is twice the volume needed-- you could instead reduce a bottle of wine on the stovetop as you're cooking the bacon and meat. There's nothing wrong with heating the wine in any case because it will come to the boil more quickly when added to the braising pot. To kick it up a notch you could throw in some bay leaves, peppercorns, thyme sprigs, parsley etc., but that really is guilding the lily! (Strain out and discard the herbs before using the wine though!)

  2. Prepare the meat: In a 6 to 8 quart Dutch oven heat the olive oil over medium high heat and then add the bacon, stirring occasionally until the fat is rendered and the bacon pieces have become crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and set aside. Pour off all but two tablespoons of the accumulated fat in the pan and return the pan to medium high heat. Salt and pepper the cubed meat all over and add half the meat or so in a single, uncrowded layer and let the meat brown well on the first side without moving it, about 5 minutes. Check to see that a nice crust has formed, and then turn the pieces over to brown the other side, about another 4 minutes or so. Remove the browned meat to a platter and repeat with the second batch of meat.

  3. Prepare the veggies to add to the braise: Lower your oven rack to the bottom third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees. While the meat is browning, in a large square of cheesecloth, pile the chopped onions and carrots, the smashed garlic cloves, the bay leaves, and the parsley and thyme sprigs. Tie this off by tying the diagonally opposite corners together. I had to unfold my cheese cloth to make a big enough square and as there were gaps in the bundle, I flipped it over onto another piece of cheesecloth the same size and tied it again to ensure no spillage of the veggies. It's important to tie tightly as these veggies will shrink as they cook.

  4. The braise: When the second batch of meat is done browning, pour in half of the wine to deglaze the pan. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the rest of the wine and the chopped tomato. (If using canned tomatoes add the tomato liquid as well.) Add the bacon and first batch of beef back to the pot, including any accumulated juices on the platter. Move the meat to one side of the pot and add the vegetable bundle to the pot. Add just enough stock to bring the level of the liquid no higher than halfway up the level of the meat and bring to a simmer. Cover the meat with a piece of parchment paper larger than the diameter of the pot. Push down on the paper so that it touches the top of the meat and cover the pot with its lid (the edges of the paper will overhang the pot). Place this pot into the oven and bask in the aromas of this dish as it simmers away. After 15 minutes, check the pot to make sure that it's not boiling too rapidly, which will toughen the meat. Adjust the oven temperature down or up to maintain a simmer. After another 30 minutes, check the meat again and stir it around so that the pieces on top are immersed in the liquid and the pieces immersed are now on top. The total braise should take between 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Check the meat at an hour and a half to see if it is tender by gently squeezing with your tongs. If you meet resistance, continue cooking another 30 minutes, but if it feels soft, your dish is done. Remove the pot from the oven and let cool to room temperature in its liquid, about two hours. Discard the parchment paper and place the pot into the refrigerator overnight. Check the meat the next day. It will likely have tenderized as it cooled in the liquid. Recall that through the process of osmosis, if the meat is dry, it will absorb liquid--and flavor--as it moistens in the liquid. This is yet another reason to make the dish a day in advance. Theoretically, you could start and finish this dish 3 hours ahead of serving it, but you'd miss out on letting the meat cool and steep in its cooking liquid. Grilled meats certainly benefit by marinating before cooking, and braised meats benefit by marinating after cooking!

  5. The mushrooms and onions: This step can be performed whenever you feel like it: a day before you do anything else, while the meat is braising in the oven, the next morning (worked best for me), or about half an hour before serving the dish. If using fresh pearl onions (as I had to), bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Blanch the onions in boiling water for 1 minute and remove to a bowl of ice water. Trim off the ugly part of the onion root, keeping the onion layers in tact as best as you can. Squeeze on the onion skin to pop out the onion pearl. You'll probably have to sacrifice a layer of onion, but it's not worth the frustration to try and peel just the outer layer. Trim the other end if necesary. Set the onions aside on paper towels to dry while you prepare the mushrooms. Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add the butter and when the foam subsides add the mushrooms, stirring to coat with the oil and butter. Let cook for 5 minutes undisturbed. Check a mushroom to see if it's browning nicely, and if so stir the mushrooms around and let them cook for 3 more minutes. Stir in the pearl onions and season the combination with salt and pepper (and the sugar if using). Let the onions caramelize and cook with the mushrooms for 8 more minutes, stirring once or twice so that the onions brown evenly. Deglaze the pan with the braising liquid, stock, or water, scraping up all the browned bits and bringing to gentle boil. Stir in the brandy and ignite if you're feeling dramatic, otherwise just cover and reduce to a simmer for 5 more minutes. (Note: NEVER pour the brandy directly from the bottle, especially if cooking over gas as the alcohol could ignite and cause an explosion. Best to pour off the measured amount and add just the amount needed.) Remove the lid, raise the heat and reduce the liquid to a quarter cup or so. Put the mushrooms and onions aside or in the refrigerator until ready to finish the dish.

  6. The finish: Remove and discard the bundle of veggies from the braising pot, squeezing out as much liquid as possible. Remove the chunks of meat to a dish and bring the leftover liquid to a boil. You should have about two cups or so. Combine the softened butter with the flour and stir to combine into a beurre manie, making sure there are no flour lumps. Whisk the beurre manie into the liquid and boil for a few minutes, thickening the sauce. Add the meat, mushrooms and onions back to the pot to reheat everything. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings with additional salt and pepper if necessary. Because beef Burgundy is a wine-based dish, you may want to splash a quarter cup or so of red wine into the dish right before serving to re-emphasize the wine flavor component. Use whatever wine you'll be having with dinner. Serve the meat with the onions and mushrooms on your favorite platter, garnished with parsley and pass the sauce on the side.
This dish is perfect with a simple starch side like mashed potatoes, boiled potatoes, or buttered noodles. Haricots verts would complete the picture perfect French bistro dinner! Voila!