Recipe: Boeuf Bourguignon à la Gluten-Free

Recipe: Boeuf Bourguignon à la Gluten-Free

Happy Campers: greetings from Paris, France!  While I do have to say that the gluten-free bread here is completely lacking compared to that of Happy Camper’s, la vie est belle, as they say, in this city of lights.  Or rain.  It’s been very Portland-esque here of late!
I am happy “urban camping” and training with some pretty commendable chefs (Michelin stars all around).  That being said, my heart and soul are profiting from the knowledge I am getting, and my inspiration to transform everything I am trained to cook into something suitable for a more sensitive digestive system is augmenting exponentially.
So, let’s start with a classic.  Boeuf Bourguignon.  While I do have to say I thought this dish would be incredibly challenging after watching it completely almost tank in the movie “Julie and Julia”, it really is not that hard.  The girl just fell asleep.  Don’t do that when you’re cooking.  (The easy way to do that would be to marinate yourself with the bottle of wine instead of the beef.)
However, if you are gluten-free, good luck ordering this tender beef dish at a French restaurant (or any restaurant for that matter) and it being a safe dish for you to consume.  The famous sauce is thickened with flour, wheat flour of course, and that is why the entire plate tastes so succulent when slow-cooked with the falling-off-the-bones meat.
Does it need wheat flour?  Absolutely not!  Tradition and convenience simply calls for it in the recipe, but many other thickening agents will do.
Thus, enjoy this gluten-, dairy- and egg-free version of the beautifully rich-yet-not-heavy French classic.  Allow at least one night for marinating, two if you want to get really special. 🙂
Bon appétit, and thinking of you from Paris,
Bubble Child

Boeuf Bourguignon à la gluten-free

1 beef shoulder (about 3 pounds)
1 bottle red wine
1 large yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, smashed, peeled
2 stalks celery, washed, chopped
2 small carrots, peeled, chopped into 1.5 cm. cubed pieces
1 leek, washed, stem removed, chopped into 1.5 cm cubed pieces
1 tbs. whole black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
4 sprigs fresh thyme
a few splashes cognac (optional)
about 1/4 cup high heat neutral oil (i.e. grapeseed, sunflower seed, canola, or avocado oil)
3 tbs. mochiko (sweet rice flour) or 1/4 brown rice flour if you cannot find mochiko
1 1/2 tbs. tomato paste or 1 tomato on the vine, diced into small cubes
1 bay leaf
2-3 cups veal, beef, or pork stock (brown stock), or water or vegetable stock in a pinch
salt to taste (about 1 tsp sea salt, but add it in slowly until it tastes good to you)
To serve
4 potatoes of choice (either baked, boiled and cooked, mashed, whatever you want)
Seasoned with salt to taste before plating.  (i.e. put salt in your water if boiling, or salt them if baked)
4 slices Happy Campers Kiss-Me Garlic Rosemary Bread, toasted
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 3-4 hours
Serves 3-4

  1. Marinate your meat: clean away the fat from the edges of the meat, cut into 2” cubed pieces, and place in a large clean bowl.  Top with all marinating ingredients (including wine), cover air-tight, and keep at least overnight (12 hours).  Marinate for up to 48 hours.
  2. You’re ready to cook?  Good!  Pre-heat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Using a spoon with holes, or tiny metal straining device, fish out the pieces of meat into a separate bowl.  Strain the marinating liquid into a saucepan, and let it start heating over high heat.  (It will eventually come to a boil while you are searing your meat.)
  4. Heat enough high heat oil in a saute pan to cover the pan generously (about 2-3 tablespoons) over medium-high to high heat.  Once oil is very hot, but not fully smoking, sear about 1/3 of your meat pieces with no overlap for about 1 minute on each side (this is important, because you want to caramelize your meat pieces.  If there is less than 1 inch in between each piece, don’t add any more meat into the pan).  Continue with all pieces of meat.  The bottom of your pan will look burnt, but don’t worry, the taste won’t translate into the dish.  Keep searing all sides of the meat until browned on each side, but not cooked through.  Transfer to a large casserole dish when meat is cooked.
  5. Meanwhile, or after (depending upon your multi-tasking skills), heat another tablespoon of high heat oil in a saute pan over medium high heat and sear your vegetables from the marinade.
  6. Once your marinading sauce has boiled and all of your meat and vegetables have been seared, add to the large casserole dish with the meat.  Stir in rice flour, coating all pieces.  Then stir in tomato.  Add stock (or water) until it almost covers the ingredients, add a bay leaf, cover tightly, and pop in the oven.  Bake for 3-4 hours, until meat is tender.  Check on it once after 15 minutes of cooking to make sure no meat is sticking to the bottom of the pan, cover again, and don’t check on it again until 2 1/2 hours later, making sure the liquid is saucy and has not evaporated.
  7. Two hours into the cooking, cook your potatoes however you want to eat them.
  8. After about 3 hours of cooking, you’re reading to serve: remove casserole from the oven, and taste for salt. Season with 1 tsp. salt and add more if you find it necessary for your palette.  Stir and let sit one minute.  Fish out your pieces of meat into a bowl.  Strain the sauce onto the pieces of meat through a fine metal strainer.  Mix gently with a large spoon.  Divvy the potatoes up onto plates and divide meat with sauce accordingly.  Serve with a side of Happy Campers toasted bread to serve in the sauce.
  9. Yum.

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