Thursday, February 28, 2013

Ina’s Beef Bourguignon and a Man in the Kitchen



Hello to all and I’m so glad to be back. You have no idea how much your get well wishes and lovely comments have meant to me these past several weeks. I’ve missed blogland immensely, especially reading your blogs and visiting with you. My life has been lonely and boring without you. I’m glad to report that my neck pain has improved greatly due to the treatment and physical therapy and isn’t nearly as painful as it was. Gone - no, but much better. However, my back pain continues to be a constant problem that just will not go away. I have to learn to adjust to limitations and some days are better than others. As one of my favorite writers, David Baldacci, said in his book The Camel Club, “Old age always sneaks up on one, but once it’s fully present, the effects are hardly subtle.” 

My dear husband Meakin has been doing more of the cooking lately with me doing the menu planning, prep in the kitchen, and of course my homemade vinaigrettes and salads. Having a good life partner has been the best thing that’s ever happened to me. “We do it together” is our motto. Meakin is a real jewel and I don’t know what I would do without him. And he’s a great cook and taught me a lot of what I know. I will continue to do my weekly postings with Meakin’s help in the kitchen as well as his being MCK’s photographer extraordinaire, so plan on seeing more of the “we” word from now on.

Beef Bourguignon is one of our favorite comfort dishes. I decided to try Ina’s recipe because, first of all you can count on her recipes to work because she does an outstanding job of testing, and second, she served her bourguignon on thick slices of toasted country bread or sourdough and I thought that sounded rustic and appealing.



With regard to testing recipes, Ina’s instructions do a great job of guiding you through the cooking process and help you to avoid glitches that other recipes tend to overlook. Case in point - she reminds you to dry the beef before you sauté it. This is a very important step to keep the meat from splattering when you brown it and often is overlooked by other recipe developers. If you’ve ever been splattered from oil in the pan when you added damp meat, you know exactly what I’m talking about. The other reason to dry the meat, and the most important one, is that if you don’t dry it well, it won’t brown properly and ends up stewing.

We thought serving the bourguignon over toasted country bread was a big success and would definitely do it again. The only thing I will add to that is that it made the dish slightly heavier compared to serving it over the traditional noodles or potatoes. It’s nice to know there is another alternative and one we’ll remember.

A caution regarding the ½ cup of Cognac that is called for in the recipe – that is an awfully lot of Cognac to flame, especially if you’re shy about flambéing (that would be me). Meakin even commented it seemed a bit too much and he's very comfortable flambéing dishes. You’ll see below that I’ve changed it to ¼ cup. (See discussion about why to flambé in the comments section.) You can also lighten up on the amount of bacon if you wish and avoid heavily smoked bacon or it will dominate the dish. Don’t leave out the fresh parsley in the end. Fresh herbs such as parsley give a braise dish a nice blast of freshness in the end. Give this recipe a try – it’s a winner.



Ina’s Beef Bourguignon
Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa via The Food Channel – serves 6

1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ pound apple wood smoked bacon, diced
2 1/2 pounds chuck beef, trimmed of excess fat & cut into 1-inch cubes
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 pound carrots, peeled, then sliced diagonally into 1-inch chunks
2 yellow onions, peeled and sliced
2 teaspoons chopped garlic (2 cloves)
1/4 cup Cognac or brandy
1 (750 ml.) bottle good dry red wine such as Cote du Rhone or Pinot Noir
2 cups fat free, low sodium beef broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried
4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature, divided
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 pound frozen whole onions (or fresh small onions, parboiled & browned)
1 pound fresh mushrooms, stems discarded, caps thickly sliced
Country bread or sour dough, toasted or grilled and rubbed with garlic clove
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

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 lined with paper towels.

Dry the beef cubes well with paper towels, 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 and the sliced onions in the fat in the pan, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Remove the pan from the heat and add the ¼ cup of cognac. Stand back and ignite with a match to burn off the alcohol. (You can add up to ½ cup of cognac if you wish).

Put the meat and bacon back into the pot with the juices. Add the bottle of red 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.

Time out for a cook’s note: If you wish to prepare this dish in advance, at this point when it cools you can cover it and keep it covered for several days in the refrigerator. We like to skim off the excess fat from the top with a spoon when it’s removed from the refrigerator and still cold. Braises served the next day are always better for maximum flavor.

Combine 2 tablespoons of butter and the flour with a fork and stir into the stew. Add the small whole onions. Sauté 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 minutes. Season to taste.

To serve, toast the bread in the toaster or oven. Rub each slice on one side with a cut clove of garlic. For each serving, spoon some stew over a slice of the toasted bread and sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley.




I will be sharing this with Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farms, Miz Helen’s Country Kitchen Full Plate Thursday, Foodie Friday at Simple Recipes, Foodtastic Friday at Not Your Ordinary Recipes, Weekend Kitchen Creations, Seasonal Sunday at the Tablescaper, The Clever Chicken Chick, and On the Menu Monday at Stone Gable.

Have a great weekend everyone. It’s great to be back.


56 comments:

  1. Good to hear that your neck pain has improved.

    That is such a wonderful stew!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  2. Welcome back! Glad to hear that you are improved and back in the kitchen. Ina's beef bourguignon is a favorite around here. I always do it a day in advance as I think the flavor only improves and, as you said, the fat can be removed. Thanks for reminding me just how good it is.

    Best,
    Bonnie

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  3. So glad you are feeling better!!!

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  4. Yeah, your back with such a fabulous recipe... I'm pinning. Really, really missed you Sam.

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  5. Looks so good for a winter's supper! Thanks for sharing.

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  6. It's awfully nice to see a post from you Sam. Glad to hear you're doing better. And hugs to that Meakin for being such a great partner! He's my hero for not being shy about setting fire to alcohol inside a house. I've never done it and must admit I'm afraid to try. A friend of mine recently suggested I try Ina's recipe. She's done both Julia's and this one and said there wasn't much difference in the end result ... that she could tell.

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  7. I am so happy to hear that your neck is feeling better Sam! This is one of my favorite dishes, though I have never had it over bread. I grew up eating bread and gravy, so this sounds wonderful to me!

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  8. Hi Sam - I'm happy to read that you are doing a little better, but in my experience back pain never completely goes away. It likes to raise it's nasty head every so often just to let me know its there. You are so blessed to have Meakin there to help you. I've made this recipe of Ina's several times and always enjoy it. Ina is the best.

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  9. Glad your neck is better, sorry the back still plagues you.

    About the stew, the mushrooms hold up and don't get slimy?

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    1. LPC, the mushrooms won't get slimy because they are sauteed before going into the dish. Just make sure you use really fresh mushrooms and you shouldn't have a problem. There is a little glare on the mushrooms from the light in the photo and that's why they are shiny.
      Sam

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  10. So pleased to see that you are back but please do not over do it. My husband make the most amazing Beef Bourguignon but it is a very slow process! Take care Diane.

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  11. Hey there! Thanks so much for visiting my blog and commenting! I'm fairly new at this and it's great to make other blogger friends. I'm so glad to discover your blog and I'll definitely be back. Us "southerners" have got to stick together, right? I love Ina Garten and this looks like a great winter recipe. I look forward to seeing what you're cooking!

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  12. CAROLINA ESTE PLATO ES EXQUISITO Y AHORA CON TANTO FRÍO VIENE MUY BIEN
    Un abrazo y buen fin de semana :)

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  13. So nice to see you smiling face back on these pages Sam.You are definitely lucky to have a partner in crime in the kitchen who loves to cook as much as you do.

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  14. What a comeback! The beef bourguignon looks like the perfect comfort food. And I love that it's something you can make ahead. So glad to hear that you're better; even, better is that your teaming up for more good things to come!

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  15. Glad you are back and feeling better and happy you that you have a man to cook and care for you. And funny you say that and then post this recipe, because it is my husband who makes the Beef Bourguignon in our house. Now you have made me want it again. Dare I ask? Delicious, yours! But why flambée the cognac? Just cook it off... it only takes a couple of minutes! HUGS!!! xo

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    1. I would have just cooked it off too Jamie. I'm a chicken when it comes to flambeing. I bet your husband's beef bourguignon is fabulous being that he's a Frenchman.
      Sam

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    2. Glad Jamie asked that ... for me. I had wondered if flaming changed the flavor, or something. Perhaps Ina just likes the drama of doing it in TV.

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    3. The reason cooks flambe is to burn off the alcohol or raw taste, which chefs believe leaves a more rounded, complex flavors.

      According to a contributor to Chow Hound: "America's Test Kitchen did a quickie on this some time ago. Think it might have been the Steak Diane episode. In a blind taste test flambeing produced an end product that was preferred by the tasters. The 'chemistry' explanation was that the surface temp of the cognac reached 500 when flambed and only 180 when simmered. This high temp is necessary for caramelization and browning. So it's more than just for show."

      It's also fun and impressive, but always remove a pan from the heat before flambeing. If you are shy about the flames, which I admit I am, cooking it down also works well.
      Sam

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  16. Good to see you back Sam. You and Meakin really do make a great team. I love this recipe over bread. Take care of yourself and look forward to seeing you back in the Carolinas.

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  17. Sam, so glad you're feeling better. Larry told me last weekend you were having back and neck problems. Your Beef Bourgignon definitely looks like the ultimate comfort food. As far as giving tips to avoid pitfalls in the kitchen, I find that you do the same thing with your recipes and they always winners too!

    Looking forward to seeing you and Meakin at the blogger party!

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  18. This looks amazing, Sam!

    Glad to hear you're feeling better - hang in there.

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  19. Glad you're back Sam but hate that you're still having to live with pain. That Meakin sure knows how to tend to his woman and I know the boy can cook. I've never had this dish, even in a restaurant, but hopefully will get to it some day.

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  20. This is not an easy dish to photograph, but you guys did very well, indeed. Never thought of adding cognac .... a great addition, for sure!

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  21. ONe of my favorite dishes! Looks awesome ~ Paula

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  22. Every step forward:)
    Is a move in a calmer place..Body and Soul~
    I am so very glad you are seeing and better yest feeling improvement:)
    Hope..never dies in the heart of a gardener:) or cook:)or writer..(OK I added the last 2:))..
    Funny I never serve my Bourguignons w/ pasta ..I try and make big popovers/or on their own..
    I kinda like the croûton addition..heavier yes..
    But we are under so much snow.. as I type..what's one more layer:?
    I always rub w/ garlic..especially for French Onion Soup..and I love Ina..
    So this will be a keeper:)


    This is how much I know..I skip the flambé..unless my DSIL is cooking..
    He's a pro:)

    And your Meakin is a keeper:)

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  23. I'm happy to hear that you've found some relief & hopefully you'll be pain free soon! We've missed you to! Meakin is a keeper, that's for certain! Oh, dinner looks divine!

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  24. So good to see you Sam and glad you're feeling better! This looks like an amazing dinner and I'll bet it's great-gotta love Ina! If I do nothing else in gardening this year, I'm committing to planting parsley:@)

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  25. Comfort food is what we could all use about now and this is a winner. Love the idea of serving it on grilled bread.
    So happy to have you (both) back. Take care of yourself.

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  26. this looks wonderful and you really are one of the sweetest couples I have ever meet hugs

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  27. Hi Sam, so good to see you BACK and you are feeling better now.
    The beef bourguignon looks fantastic!

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  28. I'm so pleased you're feeling better, Sam! Wish your back problems would disappear, but your Baldacci quote is sooooo true! (He's one of my favorite authors.)
    Meakin is truly a gem...how wonderful to have a hubby who handles the kitchen with ease. Good choice with Ina. She's a favorite too. Delicious dinner and I'm all for the cognac addition! :)

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  29. This looks very good. Have a great weekend!

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  30. I agree, most of Ina's recipes are great. I made this dish from one of the cookbooks and served it over noodles...it was so yummy...and perfect for cold weather! I am so happy to see that you are able to move forward and feeling a bit better. There is nothing worse that back and neck pain. Take care.

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  31. So happy to hear that the therapy has helped some. Every time I stop by, I find out we have more and more in common...especially where our husbands are concerned. I love David Baldacci books...I have read them all. That quote is so true. Your beef bourguignon sounds like a winner and certainly looks delicious.

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  32. Welcome back, Sam! I'm so sorry to read that your back is still hurting. I hope that time and your dear husband cooking will all help. I know Meakin is a good cook and this is a great example of that.

    What a delicious and comforting dish!

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  33. This looks yummy! Please share this at Weekend Kitchen Creations, www.weekendkitchencreations.blogspot.com. Join us, share your delicious creation and get other scrumptious ideas.

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  34. It looks delicious. I love Ina's recipes ~ they always just work. I'm so glad to hear you are feeling better! I hope your back pain lessens soon. I hurt my back a couple of years ago moving and it's never been right since. The doctor told me it probably wouldn't be and he was right, unfortunately. I have a friend who suffers with terrible back pain pretty frequently and let me say I had a whole new appreciation of what she and others go through once I hurt my back and couldn't hardly move for two weeks. At least you have a wonderful partner to help with the cooking. And he does take marvelous photographs.

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  35. Yum!! One of my all time favorites....and a family favorite too. Good news..you won my giveaway!! Please visit me and tell me if you want the salt and peppers or the serving set! Congrats....have a great weekend.

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  36. Hi Sam,
    I am thrilled to see you out and about again, I have missed you! I have thought about you often and kept you in my prayers and am encouraged to hear of your improvement.

    You are so blessed with your husband and looks like he is a great guy to have around. Your Beef Bourguignon looks fabulous. We would just love this lovely plate of flavor anytime.

    Hope you are having a great weekend and thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

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  37. So glad you are doing well! And yes, you are so lucky to have Meakin.

    I've been meaning to make Beef Bourguignon recently -- even bought mushrooms today. I usually follow Julia's recipe or the Gourmet Cookbook but I'll give Ina's a shot. Thanks!

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  38. I'm SO glad you're back, Sam! I could always tell that Meakin was a gem. It really warms my heart to know that Meakin is such a good partner. You don't hear things like that everyday. You have a very special relationship:)

    This is a fantastic looking dish. I love the idea of serving it over country bread. You've provided some really good tips, too. I can definitely see how a smokey bacon could overpower this dish and ruin it.

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  39. Welcome back, Sam! SO glad you are improving! You and Meakin are lucky to have each other - you make a great team! I noted your reaction to the flambé process - I once tried to do that on an electric stove, and it was quite an experience! Since I switched to gas, I actually haven't given it another try!

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  40. I like to have this visual of you sitting in the kitchen in a director's chair, all made up in 1950's director's outfit (beret, scarf, boots, long cigarette holder, etc) shouting directions at Meakin though a megaphone, lol. That is a great line, never read the book, but a classic line. That beef bourguignon looks great. Y'all did good!

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  41. Thank you for coming over to my blog from Tina's - I'm so thrilled that you did because it lead me here! I love this recipe and will try it on my man, who loves meat (if it's not meat it's not dinner for him)!!! So happy to be a new follower :)
    Stacy

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  42. The recipe looks so good........Thank you for sharing with the Clever Chicks Blog Hop this week; I hope you’ll join us again!


    Cheers,
    Kathy Shea Mormino

    The Chicken Chick

    http://www.The-Chicken-Chick.com

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  43. Yea! You are back! It is a wonderful thing to have a life partner who really his heart into the "We"...

    I have probably wrote it, said it, a hundred times. Love Ina. I have yet to make a recipe from her cookbooks that I was not totally delighted about-

    While it is still cold outside, this dish may be perfect for Sunday Supper.

    Always,
    Velva

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  44. its just full of the most amazing flavors! How could you ever go wrong with this. Perfect for year round

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  45. Appreciate fantastic food. I just now meant it was and this sampled brilliant: -)
    Excellent web site by using meal tasty recipes me for anybody who is intrigued I have a blog with cake recipes myself if you are interested. You can find it at http://recipes-for-food.com/

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  46. What a truly amazing & tasty festive dish!
    I love making this too! I must try your version soon! :) MMMMMMM!

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  47. Oh, I've made Ina's beef bourguignon many times - truly magnificent!

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  48. Sorry your back is still giving you so much trouble, hope it improves greatly. You're right Sam, a good life partner is worth more than a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. You are very blessed!
    Your Beef Bourguignon looks fantastic, it's not so bad to have a man in the kitchen!

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  49. I am a fan of Ina too, but the colors on your Bourguignon makes me real hungry. I've stopped eating red meat but I can substitute with Seitan(soy).Mmmm

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  50. Welcome back, Sam!!! ~~Rettabug comes running in & almost knocks her over~~ It is SO nice to *see* you blogging again! Also, nice to see what Meakin is cooking up...yummo! His photos make my mouth water.

    I'm glad you're on the mend & feeling better & pray that you will continue to improve.

    Gentle Hugs,
    Rett

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  51. I am also very glad to see you back! May you be well! Love the writings on Meakin - it just speaks of true love. I have not tried this - but I do love the looks - everything seems so "whole" and not tiny pieces - just welcoming. The bread is perfect also. As noted in the "chicken" post - no flambe for me!

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  52. It's so nice to see you posting your delicious recipes again Sam! I love French cuisine and it is so difficult to find anymore unless one goes to New York or Chicago or L.A. and even better, PARIS! So I get to dream and drool when I read your recipes! I'd love to make this someday and reduce the cognac as you recommend. Also I'm glad that you're recovering, I know your pain! Do take care of yourself. We've missed you too! PS: Yes, a wonderful life partner and friend is a blessing!

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I enjoy reading each and every comment. If you leave a comment with a question or that requires an answer, please leave an address or way for me to get in touch with you. I appreciate your taking the time to visit my blog and I hope you'll return again soon.
Sam