I can remember watching Julia Child at my grandmother’s house when I was little – she had kind of a funny sounding voice and even on television, where sizes and proportions can be warped, she was one of the tallest people I’d ever seen. And The movie Julie & Julia is one of my faves: there’s a lot of food in it and it’s a chronicle about how Food Blogging can change people’s lives.
One of my favorite parts in the movie though is when Julie makes the Beef Bourguignon – it’s a catalyst of events. Judith Jones is coming over for dinner – and Julie decides to make Julia’s Beef Bourguignon. After working all day at her full time job, and this recipe being simple yet extremely time consuming, Julie is waiting for it to be done into the wee hours of the morning. But when the timer dings, she is in La La land, passed out on the couch (Dave can vouch for how many times this happens at our house, only it’s usually at about 8pm vs. midnight) She awakes – the beef is burnt to a crisp, and after calling in sick the next day to recreate the masterpiece, her dinner guest ends up cancelling because it’s ‘raining out’ – WTF. I think anyone can relate to this horrendous series of occurences happening, the best laid out plans going completely wrong (especially in the kitchen!).
So when trying to decide the perfect dish to create for a French themed potluck dinner, I immediately thought of Beef Bourguignon – although I must admit, it’s not Julia’s exact recipe – I found a somewhat simplified version from my girl Ina – some day when I have a good 6-8 hours, I’ll try the real thing, but in the meantime, this was a great ‘sped up’ version of an old Julia Classic.
*Adapted from Barefoot Contessa
*Yields 8-10 servings – 1 serving = about a cup
1 tablespoon good olive oil
(Ina loves “good” things)
8 ounces dry cured center cut applewood smoked bacon, diced
2 – 1/2 pounds chuck beef cut into 1-inch cubes
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
1 (750 ml.) bottle good dry red wine such as Cote du Rhone or Pinot Noir
2 cups beef broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1) Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
2) 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 to a large plate.
3) 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.
4) Toss the carrots, and 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.
5) 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.
6) 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. (I did mine for 1 hr in the oven and then let it simmer more on the stove top).
7) Combine 2 tablespoons of butter and the flour with a fork and stir into the stew. Bring the stew to a boil on top of the stove, then lower the heat and simmer for an additional 15 minutes (or up to 1 hour – this will make the beef even more tender). Season to taste.
6) To serve, toast a baquette or loaf of french bread in the oven and serve the beef atop of that (or mashed potatoes would be delicious too!)
Basically, an amped up beef stew if you will – but the meat was so tender and delicious and the vegetables were cooked perfectly. This could be a really great Christmas Eve dinner for the family, or really on any cold night this Winter (if it ever gets cold – sheesh!) I would definitely give yourself a good three hours to get this together, between the prep time, the cook time in the oven and then some time to simmer on the stovetop.
Best part was that it didn’t take all day and I didn’t fall asleep while making it 🙂 BONUS!
We’re baaaa-aaaack! Were you nervous we had flown the coop? Well technically, I guess we did for a bit, now we’re back and ready to blog our socks off!
Where’ve we been for the last 2 weeks and change? Well I’ll tell you!
We spent a long weekend in Vermont with lots of:
1) Great friends & foliage:
2) Great Beer:
3) The wedding of a GREAT couple, our friends Maggie and Vinny! It was the picture perfect Vermont wedding, with every last detail covered, down to hand written notes from the bride and groom to every single guest at the wedding – my hand is cramping just thinking of it! What a great day it was.
4) A week in Chicago for the greatest metal show on earth (a.k.a – my ‘real life’ job as a metal tradeshow planning machine)
And all the celebrating, beer drinking and metal’ing has left me feeling a little under the weather with a headcold that hit me like a ton of bricks. That and the chilly fall air that has made it’s way to Boston, made me realize that it’s Chicken Chili time. It’s a great spin of that delectable Black Bean Vegetable Soup, with a few adaptations to make a little more ‘chili’esque’, while still being healthy.
1lb 99% fat-free boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 packet of mild taco seasoning
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp. Chili powder
1 tbsp. cumin
2 cups chicken stock
2 – 15oz. cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 – 28oz can crushed tomatoes
1 – 8.75 oz. can whole kernel corn
salt & pepper to taste
1) Coat the chicken breasts with taco seasoning. Cook both sides of chicken in a large saucepan over medium heat until just browned on either side, and set aside.
1) In a large saucepan or dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat; cook onion, carrots and garlic until onion is softened (about 5 minutes). Season cooked veggies with salt and pepper.
2) In the meantime, take the crushed tomatoes and 1 can of black beans and puree them together in a food processor. Set aside.
3) Add chili powder and cumin to onion/carrot/garlic mixture and cook stirring for about a minute.
4) Add the chicken stock, 1 can of black beans and can of kernel corn and bring to a boil.
5) Once the veggies have come to a boil, add the black bean and tomato puree and browned chicken breasts to the pot. Reduce heat, cover chili, and simmer for about an hour. After an hour, the chicken will be fully cooked which will allow you to shred it using 2 forks. You can remove it from the chili to shred or shred right in the dutch oven. If you shred it outside, make sure to return the chicken back to the chili. Simmer on low heat for another 1-2 hours so the shredded chicken can absorb the flavors.
This is great for Sunday Funday, or even divvy’ing it up into individual containers for lunch during the week. It also freezes really well too, in case you have left overs.
I hope these last couple weeks have been as good for you guys as it’s been for us! But – it’s good to be back 🙂