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Ina's beef bourguignon

I make resolutions with gusto. The reason I am able to keep so many of them is that they are often wildly selfish. (Request a month off of work! Go to Italy for weeks! Learn to make 12 delicious new recipes that can feed a crowd! Learn Italian! You see how this becomes so easy. Life-improving hedonistic things make the list. This is how I stack my deck in my favor.)

Tonight was dish one of twelve in my resolution to learn go-to recipes to feed a crowd. I went with Ina's beef bourguignon. I didn't follow the recipe perfectly because:

a) I didn't have the little frozen onions and I didn't really want to cook with frozen onions
b) I didn't have cognac
c) I didn't have a full pound of mushrooms. Poor planning on my part.

No matter. It turned out just fine. My people were happy, not to mention incredibly patient given that I started prepping and chopping and dicing at 6:30 and we only finished eating at 9:30. The recipe tasted a little too much of the cotes du rhone, so maybe next time I will cut back on that in favor of more beef broth.

I served it with garlic-rubbed crusty toasted bread. Holy god, sopping up all the broth-y business with the bread was delicious.

So there you go. I am going to call this a success.

Next up is mac & cheese with a white sauce, not the ghetto fabulous all-cheddar version I usually make. (Lisa - - I am trying to fancy this up for you. Get ready.) The closer I can get to the kind they make at Volunteer Park Cafe, the closer to heaven I will be.

Reggie, not helping.

Rickey, also not helping.

In other news, I bought THIS book and I am just in love with it. It's like cooking school in a book. It's fascinating. (Why didn't we get to read this in 7th-grade home ec? Oh yeah, because they were busy having us all sew ill-fitting Bermuda shorts since the sewing skill will be used exactly never again, and you will need to cook for the rest of your life... argh.) When the author details some assumptions in the beginning of the book, one of them is the use of unsalted butter. I feel so stupid. We always keep salted butter around because, duh, salt is delicious! But I bought unsalted for my cooking now that I am, you know, on this cooking rampage. UNSALTED. Heaven. How did I not know that this is how it's supposed to be?? I feel like a rube. Oh well. If you see someone standing at QFC eating unsalted butter straight from the dairy case, it's probably me. Just look the other way, please.


Shilojean said...

Requesting a month off work is only wildly selfish in the US.
The rest of the western world considers a month a year the standard.

Lolo said...

On the mac n' cheese topic, we love it baked and use all sorts of different cheeses. Low fat mozzarella helps to lighten up density and gets out of the way of the more intense cheeses. Drizzling truffle oil between layers, crisped prosciutto or panko bread crumbs over the top are variations that fancy it up.

J said...

I like that idea of hedonistic resolutions. I need to adopt it.

An Aesthete's Lament said...

The Peterson book is terrific, Decorno. You had better luck with the boeuf bourguignon than our most recent effort. We were using a 1960s recipe that takes about 4 hours to complete and at some point we got distracted by a "CSI" DVD (Marg Helgenberger, LOVE) and the meat was a bit overcooked. Okay, more than a bit. We're trying the recipe again tonight. Good luck with the mac 'n' cheese. Heavenly dish. And I've made a note re your garlic-rubbed crusty bread.

Anonymous said...

I made beef bourguignon for the first time last month, from hardcore Julia Child. The most genius thing we did was make it the day BEFORE the dinner party. Just had to reheat the next day and then DELICIOUSNESS without the prep exhaustion. Slightly shocking to see how much bacon fat rose to the top, but still....a success. Well done!

Anonymous said...

CONGRATULATIONS! I'm coming for dinner next time. May I also suggest a couple of Ina's books if you don't already have them. The Back to Basics book is great as well as the Paris Cookbook. By the way, give us the name of the cookbook you purchased. We need to keep our skills up.

Anonymous said...

Oops, just found the title to the book and the video promo. Looks like a winner to me. Also love your new blue pot.

Bailey @ peppermintbliss said...

You should try, or at least compare, Ina's BeefB to Julia's Childs, obv I am channeling Julie and Julia here, but that book (not the movie which I thought was sappy and silly and not nearly and fun as the book) makes me want to cook delicious buttery warm winter food, and I am on my new years diet and can't eat it so reading about you doing it is the next best thing! And really what's a little (unsalted) butter weight betwixt friends! Thanks!

Meg Blocker said...

I totally understand the aversion to frozen vegetables, but they really are very good, and, frequently, better than what you can get fresh - aside from the peak of season. Frozen peas, for instance.

As for pearl onions, they're pretty good frozen. You just need to make sure to thaw them ahead of time so the extra liquid can drain out.

Sounds like it all worked out really well, though! Ina does such a good job of making things accessible - my friend Louisa describes her recipes as a straight line: the shortest distance from ingredient to finished product, without sacrificing flavor. Excellent choice!

Sharon said...

Thanks for the introduction to that cookbook. I don't have that one and am going to buy it right away.

Iheartfashion said...

I love pugs!

Anonymous said...

Shilojean - missing the point.

Anonymous said...

Did you ever reveal what size dutch oven you decided on? It's a little difficult for me to tell from the picture.

Decorno said...

6+ quarts.

puck said...

i do the julia child beouf as well. yummy! also her chicken marsala is divine.

i have a few french ovens but only tend to "dirty up" one of them. i cannot bring myself to "ruin" them all. crazy, huh? they are just too pretty to use!

kara said...

I once had an hour conversation about unsalted butter and the difference it makes on bread, with a restaurant owner. It's one of those little things that makes a huge difference.

Le Creuset- what can I say... I am in LOVE with the stuff. Happily, I live about 45 mins from a LC outlet store which helps with this addiction. My fave piece is the orange/red butter dish. When small hands touch this piece, my heart actually skips a beat.

Regarding Cookbooks, Ina will NEVER steer you wrong. A must is her Perfect Roast chicken - very easy to double or just prepare alone and there are a million great sides you an compliment it with. Purchasing all of her books will give you a really nice variety of recipes to choose from. What I love about her cooking is that she focuses on the food instead of the overpriced or difficult to find spices (hey, if it's not at Trader Joes, I don't need to cook it) that compliment the food and regularly just uses salt and pepper.

Another reader commented about the Junior League cookbooks of Colorado. The series starts with one of the best ever and is called Colorado Cache, they are a staple as well. A million great recipes that are easy to prepare. Another great book to recommend is "How to Cook Everything" by Mark Bittman and has saved my ass on many occasion. I love the basic recipes coupled with the drawings to walk you through.

Lastly, google the recipe Paula Deen's Ooey gooey Choc cookies, make a double batch and watch them fly off the counter. You can't go wrong with cookies that have a stick of butter, brick of cream cheese and chocolate cake mix - DUSTED WITH POWDERED SUGAR....


home before dark said...

Regarding unsalted butter: Plugra. I've cooked with unsalted butter for over 30 years with Land of whatever available. Plugra is worth the money. Simple roasted chicken breasts (olive oil, salt & pepper), then out of the oven glazed with Plugra: yummy!

Tip about cleaning Le Crueset: bar keepers friend. But lately have been using those power ball dishwasher tabs. It's like polident for crusted dirty pans!

MoreSkinnyDays said...

I am a big fan of cooking these delicious, counting the overall calories, and then freezing them in portions of two. That way I get to regularly enjoy good food without a lot of work or guilt. Remember, the reason the French stay thin is because of portion control, so if you can get eight servings out of an eight serving recipe, you're golden! Just remember to walk to the store to buy the ingredients.

Ana said...

We're Le C twins, congrats on the beautiful purchase!

Anonymous said...

Julia's boeuf bourguignon, with its laborious multiple steps, isn't the shortest route to a hearty French stew, it's the apotheosis of that dish. Are there simpler recipes? Absolutely. And some of those recipes ( not the ones that involve cream of mushroom soup) are every bit as traditional as the version in the book. But anybody with a palate can tell that the more time-consuming version is subtler, more complex, and, well, just better.

Here is Pierre Franey's Boeuf Bourguignonne

1/2 pound salt pork, cut into 1/4-inch cubes, blanched in water
4 pounds lean, boneless chuck or brisket, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
Salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
24 pearl white onions, about 3/4 pound, peeled
1 pound small button mushrooms
5 tablespoons flour
5 cups dry red Burgundy wine
2 whole cloves
2 whole allspice
1 bay leaf
1/2 tespoon dried thyme
4 parsley sprigs

Using a large, heavy skillet over medium heat, add the cubes of salt pork. Cook, stirring with a slotted spoon, until they are crisp. Remove the cubes and set aside. Leave the rendered fat in the skillet.
Add the cubes of beef to the skillet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and brown over high heat, stirring and turning the pieces often, for about 10 minutes.
Add the garlic, onions and mushrooms, stirring often. Sprinkle with flour and stir to coat evenly.
Add the wine and stir. Add the saltpork cubes, cloves, allspice, bay leaf, thyme and parsley; salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours or until meat is tender.
Remove the bay leaf, parsley sprigs and any fat on top.
YIELD10 servings
By PIERRE FRANEY, February 19, 1986

snobertson said...

Julia Child's recipe compared to Ina Garten's are really similar. She basically just does the shortcuts you would expect for cooking in the 21st century. The frozen pearl onions are one of those timesavers (Julia has you peeling loads of small onions, blah).

I made Ina's for Christmas Eve, it was awesome, and I don't think you're missing out by not following along or using Julia Child's recipe.

Good luck on your resolution.

Jennifer said...

How do we know it is reeally in the pot??? I have to admit though, very convincing with the pups not cleaning and all.

Lisa said...

I will eat your mac n' cheese off of the floor with the dogs - that's how un-fancy I am.

But I do appreciate that you are pretending that I will one day be invited over for dinner. It's the thought that counts.

katiedid said...

OK....great minds and all that. I am making this for a progressive dinner party tomorrow (we are in charge of the main course)so I am soooo happy to hear it was as good as I was expecting. That Ina... her stuff just works for me.

Susan said...

Do you like Beecher's Mac & Cheese? The recipe is in their "Pure Flavors" cookbook. I think it's a winner! Lots of other good recipes in the book.

Anonymous said...

Who the fuck is Reggie? There's a strange animal in your kitchen.

Decorno said...

Reggie is new. He's a 3-year-old rescue. He acts like he owns us. He bosses Rickey around. He's the new sheriff in town.

josh said...

ina's mac and cheese recipe made with truffle butter is incredible. it costs a fortune (the cheeses are the most expensive part) but it is a real crowd pleaser!

totally worth trying.

Cyn said...

I love that we are talking about butter again. Wasn't it you who told us about french butter and I went out and bought Plugra and ate it for weeks (my ass thanks you)? But I have to say that I just don't like unsalted butter, I use when I bake (which means I never use it). Not sure why but I love salted butter so much more!

David said...

After your original post I was thinking I should probably have a french oven as well. Thank you for helping me decide on color, Carribean it is.

Regarding mac & cheese: I have an old Cottage Living recipe for cavatappi (spiral shape) with gruyere, gouda, parmesan, and prosciutto. Not difficult, totally delicious, yell if you want it.

Leigh said...

So whose mac n cheese are you making? Check out Alton Brown's version. And I second the recommendation for How to Cook Everything. Great for everyday-type cooking.

Jessica Claire said...

I see-saw'd over getting the kettle in "dune" and ended up going for it once I got ahold of a $30 off coupon - it's like a stlish accessory and a perfectly functional item all in one - what more can you ask for?

Richie Designs said...

you know we're all going to copy you now. the blue is perfect

and unsalted is super yum

Stacy said...

Only a month? We moved in September and I haven't even gotten a job. I make the hubby bring home the bacon, and I sit around and bake and blog all day. So there.

I actually asked for Peterson's "Baking" book for Christmas, but the hubby got me "Cooking" instead. I was going to exchange it, but then I started reading it and I may not give it up. I'm still totally getting "Baking," too.

Anonymous said...

I've found Ina's Boeuf Bourguignon recipe is great, but is actually better if you cook it quite a bit longer than she says. This is one of those things where the beef just gets more tender and the flavors just get more integrated if you keep going. (Your feeling that the wine was too intense may mean it needed longer, for example.) So I often give that recipe at least an extra hour in the oven. Then the meat is fall-apart tender and the sauce is mellow.

As for mac and cheese, I can't second the recommendation for Alton Brown's recipe - I found it dreadful and full of idiotically difficult steps like tempering an egg. For the platonic ideal of mac & cheese, I'd suggest Cook's Illustrated's version. I think it's available online, too.

Anonymous said...

Your dogs are soooo cuuuute!

Jennifer said...

Why must the decision process be so difficult on what color LC to get. However, I too have stumbled down the LC what color to get road. First impulse was get the turquoise. But then the second guessing comes in. What will match my kitchen best, will it look dated in a year., Red? no everybody gets red. In the end i got nothing, could not decide. Hell, why not get one of every color, there is no wrong or right. Not a life changing decision. Soooo, my guestion is in decorating should and do you always go with your first idea and expand upon that? I recently picked paint colors for my house, second guessed myself. Hired a decorator to help pick colors.... She picked the exact ones i had picked. Ridiculous

Anonymous said...

Yesterday I bought my first LC in dune, and love it. Started Julia's recipe last night at 6, had trouble following it, got totally frustrated at the pearl onion part and moved over to the Ina recipe. I loved cooking in the pot and the dish was delish but we ate at 9:30. Could have cooked longer but I couldn't wait.

Anonymous said...

Where did you get that blue and cream rug?

Decorno said... It's a Dash & Albert rug.

Anonymous said...

I have cooked Ina's Beouf Bourguigon recipe many times and it is the best. If you liked it use the cognac and the frozen mushrooms next time, its worth it.

hello gorgeous said...

I have only one Ina failure and it was a cake with mocha frosting (way too much butter). Her recipes are pretty can't-fail.

Love the new little guy.

Kyle Lynn said...

awww baby pug... so cute!

tracylynn said...

Snowed in in Washington and catching up on your blog. Inspired me to attempt the boeuf bourgingnon. Also now slavering over the new Le Cruset cassis color...thanks a lot!

I think you should attempt risotto next...I make it all the time with spicy italian sausage and mushrooms. It's a crowd pleaser ;)

Brooklyn Doctor said...

I LOVE beef bourguignon.

Just reading your post has made me hungry.


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