There is something very warm about Les Halles on Park Avenue South. Maybe that it is always brimming with people and their accompanying body heat. Maybe it is the warm wooden shade of the walls. Maybe it is the fact that I always order French onion soup. Be that as it may, it is the perfect refuge from the winter.
But if you can't bring yourself to Anthony Bourdain's French comfort food, bring his French comfort food to you. Bourdain claims that this Boeuf Bourguignon is one of the easiest, but best, recipes in his Les Halles cookbook. In just three steps, you'll have what everyone dreams of in winter but never writes on their Christmas list: deep, rich, bone-clinging stew—and for a lot less than the average cost of an entree at Les Halles, which can run you up to $32.
- 2 pounds of beef shoulder or neck, cut into 1 1/2–inch pieces
- Salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 4 onions, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup red Burgundy
- 6 carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 bouquet garni
- A little chopped flat parsley
Season the meat with salt and pepper. In the Dutch oven, heat the oil over high heat until it is almost smoking. Add the meat, in batches, and sear on all sides until it is well browned. When all the meat is a nice, dark brown color and has been set aside, add the onions to the pot. Lower the heat to a medium high until the onions are soft and golden brown (about 10 minutes). Sprinkle the flour over them. Continue to cook for about 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add the red wine. Naturally, you want to scrape up all the really good fond from the bottom of the pot with your wooden spoon. Bring the wine to a boil.
Return the meat to the pot and add the carrots, garlic, and bouquet garni. Add just enough water so that the liquid covers the meat by one third—meaning you want a ratio of 3 parts liquid to 2 parts meat. Bring to a boil, reduce to a gentle simmer, and let cook for about 2 hours, or until the meat is tender.
Check the dish every 15 to 20 minutes, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot to make sure the meat is not sticking or scorching. You should also skim off any foam or sum or oil collecting on the surface. When done, removed and discard the bouquet garni, add the chopped parsley to the pot, and serve.