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Julie Van Rosendaal makes beef bourguignon

The Eyeopener's food and nutrition columnist Julie Van Rosendaal tells us how to throw a retro dinner party with beef bourguignon.

Boeuf Bourguignon

adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, by Julia Child

6 slices bacon, chopped (optional)
canola or olive oil, for cooking
3 lbs. lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes (I used a blade roast)
salt and pepper to taste
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, mashed
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
a few sprigs of fresh thyme
full-bodied red wine, such as a Chianti
beef stock
1-2 Tbsp. butter
1-2 cups small white pearl onions, peeled
2-3 cups button mushrooms, halved or quartered if large, and left whole if small

Preheat the oven to 300F.

Sauté the bacon in a drizzle of oil in a heavy skillet or oven-proof pot set over medium-high heat until cooked through; transfer to a bowl and set aside. Leave the drippings in the pan, or add a drizzle of oil if you're not using bacon.

Pat the beef dry with paper towels, season with salt and pepper and brown it in batches, setting it aside with the bacon as it's browned. Add the onion to the skillet and cook for a few minutes, stirring to loosen browned bits from the bottom of the pan, until the onions are soft and turning golden. Add the garlic and cook for a minute, then add the balsamic vinegar and stir to loosen any browned bits.

Return the meat to the pan (if you're braising in it) or transfer everything to a baking dish. Add the flour and stir to coat the meat well. Add the sprigs of thyme and add enough beef stock and wine to come about 3/4 of the way up the meat. Cover and cook for 3 hours, until the meat is very tender. When you're ready to serve it, heat the butter in a heavy skillet set over medium-high heat and cook the mushrooms and onions until they start to brown - they should be nicely golden - and then stir them into the rest of the stew. Serve hot, over mashed potatoes.

Serves 6.

My Grandma's Antipasto

1/2-1 cup olive or canola oil, or half of each
1 small head cauliflower, chopped/separated into small florets
1 large or 2 medium purple onions, peeled and chopped
2 - 375 mL cans or jars pitted, sliced black olives
2 - 375 mL cans or jars manzanilla olives, sliced
2 small red or yellow bell peppers, seeded and chopped
3 - 106 g cans small cocktail shrimp, or about 1 1/2 cups tiny frozen shrimp
3 cans tuna, drained
3 1/2 cups ketchup
1 cup white vinegar
2 - 10 oz. (284 mL) cans mushroom slices or pieces, drained

In a very large pot, combine the oil, cauliflower, onions and olives and bring it all to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. (This is how it's worded in the original book - it sounds as if the veg are boiling in oil, but really the ratio is so great that it's a lot of cauliflower, onions and olives sort of glistening in the oil - it's hard to tell if it's actually "boiling", so just make sure it's cooking to the point where any juices you see are bubbling.)

Add the remaining ingredients and heat just until it boils. (Don't let it go on cooking too long, or the veggies will start to break down and release their liquid.) If you're using jars, pour the hot antipasto into hot, sterilized jars; seal and cool. Otherwise, remove the pot from the heat and let the antipasto cool, then transfer to containers to store in the fridge or freeze.

Makes about 6 L.

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