For those of you that don’t live in SoCal, it’s been raining like the dickens out here. Like nonstop. For 5 days. Basically California was broken. It was as close to winter as it can get in LA, so I immediately began craving all those warm-you-to-the-core dishes that my mama used to cook for us when I was a young’un. Black bean soups, beef stews, sweet and sour pork, creamed chipped beef, pot roast… you know, all those amazing wintertime delights that could never taste as good in a restaurant as in your mama’s kitchen.
One such dish is Beef Burgundy, which is basically a simpler, homestyle version of Julia’s Boeuf Bourguignon. The biggest difference is that the bacon and carrot is removed, and the red wine is often a combo of wine and tomato sauce, or for those on slim budgets, just tomato sauce. So sans recipe, I decided to whip up a batch of beef burgundy from the recollections of watching my mama make it back in PA combined with a few tricks of my own. I think she’d agree I did it justice.
Beef Burgundy or Tenderloin Tips and Mushrooms in a Sherry and Red Wine Gravy
Serves 5 -6
2 lbs beef tenderloin tips or beef stew meat
flour to coat, about 1/4 cup
1/2 a sweet onion, medium dice
12 oz white mushrooms, sliced thick
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry sherry
1/2 cup good red wine (I like Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot for cooking)
3 – 4 cups beef broth
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp tomato paste
3 tbsp heavy cream
Place a large, heavy bottomed saucepan (I use my le creuset for this) over medium-high heat. Coat the bottom with extra virgin olive oil. While the pot is getting hot, cube up your beef into uniform 1-inch pieces. If you can find tenderloin tips, I much prefer the cut to regular stew meat for this dish. Its a lower fat content, therefore a less greasy gravy. Not to mention the word tender is in its title, so you don’t have to cook it as long for it to breakdown and become soft.
Season the beef well with salt and pepper, then toss in flour gently to coat. Brown the meat in two batches in the pan. You’re looking for really good caramelization and color on the beef, like in the picture below. If you went for a large cube size, don’t be concerned with cooking the meat through at this point. Just go for the color on the outside. And don’t worry about the flour that’s sticking to the pan, we’ll get to that later.
Pull the meat out and brown the second batch, adding more oil if necessary. When the second batch is done, pull the beef out, set aside, and turn the heat down to medium. Add the onions and mushrooms to the pan and saute. As they begin to soften and release moisture, about 7 – 9 minutes, the liquid will pull up some of the browned nums that are stuck to the bottom of the pan. This is a good thing. Don’t worry if you don’t get it all now, you’ve got two more steps to scrape that all into the sauce. When the onions are geting close to finished, add in the garlic and saute together for atleast a minute. When the mushrooms and onions take on a beautiful golden color, you’re know they’re done.
Now its time to deglaze the pot with our liquors. Raise the heat to high and add the sherry and red wine. If you don’t have sherry on hand, feel free to use only wine, but I would recommend adding a few tsps of sugar for balance. Now make sure you really scrape at the pan to pick up all that caramelized goodness. It comes off pretty easy at this point. Allow the liquid to cook off, reduce and thicken, which takes about 3-5 minutes. That’s right, it’s starting to look a bit more like gravy now.
Alright, everybody in the pool. Dump that beef back in, along with any juices that might have collected with it, as well as the bay leaf, tomato paste, and then top with the beef broth. You might not need all 4 cups, but the broth should just cover the beef by about 1/2 inch. Stir everything to combine and scrape down the sides of the pan. When the mix comes to a simmer, turn the heat down to low and partially cover the pan, leaving the lid slightly askew.
Simmer over low heat for 45min – 1 hour, depending on the size and cut of your beef. You’ll want to stir the pot every 15 minutes or so to make sure nothing’s sticking to the bottom. How will you know its done? The sauce will have reduced by half, and become deliciously smooth and thick like a good gravy.
Wowie wow! Look how that sauce reduced. Right at the end, I like to stir in a tiny bit of cream which I think really brings the sauce together and a nice pinch of fresh chopped parsley to add a bright note for contrast. Both are totally optional, and totally worth it in my humble opinion.
Serve over buttered egg noodles with lots of delicious, sweet steamed peas. Oh billy, your tummy will be thanking you.