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!
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.
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.
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.