Boeuf Bourguignon – A perfect dish to celebrate the beginning of Winter

Last evening, we had friends over the celebrate the beginning of Winter and the holidays. There could not have been a more perfect dish to serve than Boeuf Bourguignon on a chilly evening in December! I am sure that Julie and Julia almost overdosed everyone on this wonderful bistro favorite. Even people that never heard of it prior to the movie were running off to make a big pot of fancy French beef stew…Well, I must say that I have been making it for many years and will never tire of this delightful dish. It truly is one of the great classic French dinners.

I love the fact that you can make Boeuf Bourguignon a day in advance and warm it up right before guests arrive. Voila! Wonderful, easy dinner and time to spend with your company. It is much tastier after all the flavors have had a chance to get to know each other better. That is why I prefer to make it a day ahead. If you have to make it the day you plan to serve it, you should make it early in the morning to allow all the wonderful flavors to come together.

I am sure that some people will look at the recipe and find it daunting with all the ingredients and steps. I say phooey! The best thing you can do for yourself is get a bunch of cups and bowls (of all sizes) and set out your measured ingredients (that would be mise en place in French). It makes all the difference in the world. I do all the washing, chopping, pepper grinding, etc. and then get everything in order. That way you are not running around looking lost trying to find the salt or tomato paste. It will all be right there in front of you when the recipe calls for that particular ingredient. It also makes clean up easier as you put things away before you start cooking and not during. Once the pot is in the oven you can finish up and prepare the last few ingredients. Look, I even have time to write this and take pictures!

I truly find this to be the best way to cook and entertain. I served the Boeuf Bourguignon with a baby lettuce salad dressed with a champagne vinaigrette, crusty bread and Baked Pears with a Caramel Sauce and Vanilla Ice Cream for dessert (recipe will follow in the next blog). Of course, there is already one whole bottle of burgundy in the dish (be sure to use a nice bottle that you would like to drink). We also served complimentary wines with the dinner (and too many of those and cognac to follow, I might add!). By the way, this 2003 Chehalem Reserve Oregon Pinot Noir, Wilamette Valley was amazing!

This recipe is courtesy of Ina Garten.
Here is the link.

I have to say that I have tried several other versions over the years (including Julia Child’s). Although Julia’s and Ina’s are quite similar, I find that I prefer the flavors of the dish when I prepare Ina’s. It has been consistent every time that I have prepared it. I do not have to add one single pinch of salt or tweak the final product at all.

Just so you know, I always use a nice French Burgundy (Pinot Noir is the same grape if you are using an Oregon or California wine) as well as a good cognac in the Boeuf Bourguignon. I use Swanson’s Organic Beef Broth (which has a lower sodium content) and Oscar Meyer’s Center Cut Bacon in the dish. I have found these few items to really make a difference. When prepared this way, it is perfect. I promise you will be hard pressed to find a better version in a Parisian bistro!

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