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Beef Bourguignon for a crowd

Hi, I'm starting to realize I need advice about my party next weekend that will have 20 guests and a French theme. I'm planning to make beef Bourguignon and I'm wondering a couple of things.
I'm planning to use Julia Child's recipe (which I have made in the past), but the Cook's Illustrated one appealed as well: less classical obviously but possibly more reliable given that I don't have time for test run and I need to scale it up quite a bit. Either way I'll make the stew part a couple days ahead and make and keep the mushroom/pearl onion garnish separate til the end.
In terms of making enough for 20, how much should I make? I'll be serving with potatoes, green salad and a fennel/orange salad. Some appetizers before and a cheese plate after (or before if appetites dictate). Chocolate mousse for dessert unless something else occurs to me in the meantime. Guests will be hungry as there is a sports activity beforehand.
Also...one guest is gluten free. Should I try to use a gluten free blend and/or thicken the sauce with the pureed veg? Or should I say go with flour and make that guest something else? Don't want to ruin a massive batch...
Thanks for any thoughts!

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  1. Just commenting on the gluten free aspect- I feel like you've got enough to fill up on without making something separate for that person. I'm looking forward to seeing how this turns out!

    1. I don't eat grains so I just skip the flouring step all together. To thicken the sauce I reduce it and then blend some of the veggies. It works great.

      In addition to being a great make ahead dish it also freezes and reheats really well so if you end up making too much you'll have a nice stash of winter dinners.

      1. Maybe skip the flour and thicken with cornstarch? Not optimal but it would be a shame for a guest to miss out on the star of the show if its avoidable .

        Or skip flouring the meat, when you are ready to thicken the sauce with a slurry, remove a portion and use cornstarch or potato starch and flour slurry for the rest.

        1. You should count on 4-6 oz of meat per person depending on your Guests. You will probably have some leftovers (shouldn't be too much of a burden).
          As far as your Gluten Free Guest just pullout a portion just before you add your Beurre manié. Nothing gives that velvety mouth feel and enrichment like Beurre manié does. You can Beurre Monté the GF portion if you like.

          1. Just curious, is the guest that is gluten free, gluten intolerant or does he/she have a gluten allergy? If the guest doesn't have an intolerance or allergy, then I would not cater to them. They can deal with it.

            I can't stand fads like "gluten free" and they always make me feel bad for people with the real problem, because it discredits their needs.

            1 Reply
            1. re: skier

              Why? As long as they're not claiming to have a gluten allergy, how does it hurt anyone? My husband avoids gluten but never says he's allergic in order to ensure gluten free food. As for "catering" to someone, well, I'd try to cater to a friend. I like my friends and want them to enjoy themselves.

            2. As other have said this freezes well. I have made large batches of it in advance, even putting the mushrooms and onions in it and it holds up well. Make it a few days in advance and the flavors will really meld. As someone else mentioned use potato flour which you can get in the kosher section. I am not sure if cornstarch is completely gluten free, as a friend just told me about it. I end up letting it cook in the oven rather than on top of the stove, that way I don't have to worry about it burning or catching on the bottom of the pot. Also, if you are going to an event, you can put it in the oven before you go on a low temp and it will be ready when you want it. Enjoy, and make it easy for yourself.

              1. When I make stew style dishes in big batches, I like to play it safe and separate the meats/vegetables when they are tender. Strain the sauce and reduce it to do most of the thickening. then add it all together to warm up. The first cook will already marry the flavors, and you get to concentrate the wine sauce without drying out the meat or turning the vegetables to mush.

                You can use less thickener that way. Also, Modernist Cuisine does a "jus gras" using Xanthan Gum as a thickener. A little goes a long way.

                1 Reply
                1. One option I use with stews and some soups (like clam chowder).

                  I cook an extra potato or , in the broth / braise until falling apart, then use some of the stock / base and puree. This way I can add less cream. Clam chowder, using nothing but cream is too rich for me. You could do the same thing with your Beef Bourguignon

                  I love the other suggestions (potato starch, cornstarch, no one mentioned arrow root, but you could also go that way).

                  If it were me, I would put an extra couple of potatoes in the braise, and let them cook until falling apart and then then blend with some of the other veg. if you still didn't have the consistency you wanted you could simply add some instant potato and extra butter to get the right consistency.

                  I'd like to think you'd have a bit more earthy-ness and flavors this way, But I doubt many could tell the difference between either of the methods mentioned above? So do what's easiest and makes the most sense to you.

                  Sounds like an awesome party..wish I had friends like you:-)

                  1. I often cook for people who are avoiding wheat for various reasons. For dredging, I use potato or corn flours (different from cornstarch), or occasionally rice flour. Either of those starches can also be used to thicken the sauce, although pureed veg (I use carrot/potato) is healthier.
                    With regards to quantity: for 20 guests, start with 5 pounds/2.2 kg of beef, and similar scal for the mushrooms. I like to freeze any leftovers in single portions, with the mushrooms, onions and peas already in the container :) Julia Child's recipe scales up very well; taste before adding the salt and pepper at the end.
                    Have a great time with your friends!

                    1. I used J. Child's recipe to make this a few months ago but I cut the recipe in half. And fortunately I saved my notes. I used well trimmed boneless chuck roast, fresh boiling onions and 2 bottles of wine which was greatly reduced after cooking. After browning the meat, I cooked it in a large crock pot instead of in the oven. It turned out wonderful. I served it with a green salad, sourdough bread & butter and served the BB with egg noodles After halving the recipe, I thought we still ended up with a lot. It was enough to feed 6 people. There is nothing really difficult about it. The only part of the prep work that was kinda tedious and time consuming was peeling and preparing those little onions.

                      If I had a gluten free guest I would substitute corn starch for the flour, as someone else also suggested.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Sam D.

                        Agree with adding a couple of potatoes to the braise then 'stick-blending them to thicken,
                        One suggestion I'd make is to reduce the wine separately before adding it. The alcohol does some weird things to meat and veg. if used straight from the bottle and reduced as part of the braising.

                        I've tried experimenting both ways and the difference in the finished dish is noticeable.
                        At the risk of getting into another lengthy debate (which I will not) I suggest you use a burgundy that you would really enjoy drinking. I think JC mentioned something to that effect re 'BB'. You're going to a lot of effort so what's an extra ten bucks a bottle?

                      2. Thanks everyone for your input! I ended up using 12lb of beef which gave us tons of leftovers, but I was OK with that! 9lb would been enough. Used the JC recipe and served it on mashed potatoes. Oh and used a little cornstarch to thicken it after leaving out the flour. Didn't need to add quite as much liquid in the scaling process.

                        I made the chocolate mousse from the Cook's Illustrated book - doubled the recipe and it made exactly 16 servings which was just enough.... I think I actually prefer the JC recipe, it is darker, richer and maybe a little airier texture, but everyone was happy so no regrets!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: waver

                          Sounds like you did great! Those leftovers are going to be a nice treat on a cold fall night.

                        2. You should try the Cooks Illustrated recipe sometime. It's superb. I say that as a big fan of the JC recipe.