Birthday Dinner

Today my hubby is thirty-five. That’s old, right?  It seems old.  What is worse is that I’m not that far behind.  <Shudder>  My mom reminded me tonight that in a few years, I’ll be forty.  Thanks, mom.

My husband has been asking me to make beef bourguignon for several years now but I have never felt confident about attempting it.  I knew it was time consuming but that didn’t really bother me.  (If you need a frame of reference on what beef bourguignon is, remember Julie & Julia?)  I was most worried about adding Cognac to a Dutch oven and then standing back while you light it with a match.  That had me worried.  I could just see my little kitchen going up in smoke.  But I decided this was a milestone year so I would put aside my fears and attempt it.  (Truth be told, since my hubby works from home now, he was able to do the scary part.)

I won’t lie, this recipe is not easy.  It has many steps and lots of prep work needs to be done ahead of time.  But I have to admit, I was really impressed with the results and honestly, it may have been better than the beef bourguignon I have had at French restaurants.  We had this along with a green salad and country bread.  And for dessert?  An apple cake tatin to round out the French meal .  Mais bien sûr!

Beef Bourguignon

Recipe Courtesy Of:  Ina Garten

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 ounces bacon, diced
  • 2 1/2 pounds beef chuck cut into 1-inch cubes
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound carrots, sliced diagonally into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 yellow onions, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic (2 cloves)
  • 1/2 cup Cognac or good brandy
  • 1 (750-ml) bottle good dry red wine, such as Burgundy
  • 2 to 2 1/2 cups beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 pound frozen small whole onions
  • 1 pound mushrooms, stems discarded, caps thickly sliced

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.

Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is lightly browned. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a large plate.

Dry the beef cubes with paper towels and then sprinkle them with salt and pepper. In batches in single layers, sear the beef in the hot oil for 3 to 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove the seared cubes to the plate with the bacon and continue searing until all the beef is browned. Set aside.

Toss the carrots, onions, 1 tablespoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of pepper in the fat in the pan and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the Cognac, stand back, and ignite with a match to burn off the alcohol.

Put the meat and bacon back into the pot with the juices. Add the bottle of wine plus enough beef broth to almost cover the meat. Add the tomato paste and thyme. Bring to a simmer, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and place it in the oven for about 1 1/4 hours or until the meat and vegetables are very tender when pierced with a fork.  Remove from oven.

Combine 2 tablespoons of butter and the flour with a fork and stir into the stew. Add the frozen onions. Saute the mushrooms in 2 tablespoons of butter for 10 minutes until lightly browned and then add to the stew. Bring the stew to a boil on top of the stove, then lower the heat and simmer for 15-30 minutes. Season to taste.

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  • Mercy Samuel October 25, 2011 Reply

    I am so impressed at you trying out this complicated recipe. I don’t think I will ever make this recipe but hope to taste it some day at your house.

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