A Feast of Boeuf Bourguignon and Pumpkin Creme Brulee

With all the rain last week, I decided to go all out with a French fall-themed dinner of beef bourguignon and pumpkin creme brulee on Friday night. I’d never made a bourguignon but something about watching Julie and Julia with my mom last month had me longing to try it. I hadn’t played with my torch in years – I was on quite the brulee kick a few years ago experimenting with Baileys, Kahlua, vanilla, eggnog, pumpkin, and lavender (not all together). Creme brulee is still one of my favorite desserts and I am happy to say that I’m back on the bandwagon.

I didn’t make Julia Child’s version of the beef. Instead, I used Amanda Hesser’s version from The Essential New York Times Cookbook which was as easy as assembling lasagna. I only wish that I hadn’t chopped the vegetables so finely as it would have been nice to eat chunks of mushroom, onion, and carrot like in a stew. I guess that’s the price you pay for using the food processor for everything. The flavor definitely intensified over the weekend making leftovers especially delightful on Sunday. I would easily recommend this recipe to anyone nervous about making a beef bourguignon for the first time as it was simple to prepare and felt quite fancy to feast on.

For the pumpkin creme brulee, I used my old stand-by recipe which doesn’t require heating the cream before putting it in the oven. Simply mix everything together, pour into ramekins sitting in a water bath, and bake. Enjoy!

Boeuf Bourguignon

Notes from the editor:

  • If you make the boeuf Bourguignon a day ahead and put it in the fridge, the chilled fat will rise to the surface and solidify, so you can peel it off with a spoon before reheating it. (This was really cool!)
  • When the casserole is cooking, the liquid should barely bubble.
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 large slices salt pork or 6 slices bacon
  • 1 1/2 cups diced carrots
  • One 2-pound boneless chuck or beef rump roast, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1/2 pound mushrooms, trimmed and chopped
  • 1/2 bottle (750-ml bottle) Burgundy or pinot noir
  • 1/3 cup Cognac

1. Pour the oil into a large casserole and add 1 slice salt pork (or 3 slices bacon). Add the diced carrots and cover them with 1/3 of the sliced beef in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the meat with half the onions, garlic, shallots, and mushrooms. Cover with a layer of half the remaining beef and sprinkle with more salt and pepper. Add the remaining onions, garlic, shallots, and mushrooms and cover with a final layer of the remaining beef. Top with the second slice of salt pork (or remaining 3 slices of bacon). Pour the Burgundy and Cognac over all. Season with additional salt and pepper.

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2. Place the casserole over high heat, and when it begins to simmer, cover and lower the heat. Cook for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until the meat is tender when tested with a fork.

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Pumpkin Creme Brulee

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons rum or vanilla
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup pureed pumpkin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar (for caramelized tops)

Preheat oven to 300F. Whisk together the cream, rum/vanilla, yolks, sugar, pumpkin, and spices. Blend well. Strain into a large bowl, skimming off the foam/bubbles. Divide evenly among 6-7 ramekins and place in the water bath and bake until set around the edges but still loose in the center (30-40 minutes). Remove from oven and leave in the water bath until cool. Remove and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or up to 3 days. When ready to serve, sprinkle about 2 teaspoons of sugar over each custard and caramelize. After caramelizing, chill in the refrigerator for 5 minutes before serving.

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