We couldn't finish our round-up of simple French dinners without mentioning the king of beef stews, boeuf bourguignon from the Burgundy region of France. If you're a steak lover who thinks slow-cooked meats are mushy and tasteless, prepare to be amazed.
Boeuf Bourguignon is the best of all possible worlds when it comes to cooking meat. If you've ever ordered a tenderloin of beef only to discover that you can almost cut it with a fork but your well-aged (and expensive) mouthful isn't as flavorful as the flat-iron steak from last week's fajitas, you've stumbled on one of the biggest balancing acts at the meat market, the interplay of tenderness and flavor. Tougher, older cuts have good flavor, and well-marbled, young and tender cuts have desirable texture.
You may have been willing to sacrifice flavor for tenderness in the past, but after trying a well-crafted boeuf bourguignon, you might just change your mind. That's how delectable it can be. Beef bourguignon is usually made with Burgundy wine and typically includes beef chuck (or another less tender cut of beef) bacon, olive oil, aromatics, mushrooms, onions, and occasionally, brandy. The beef is usually sautéed to seal in the juices before simmering in stock, wine and herbs for three hours or more at low heat. This is another perfect crockpot dish. Give it a try. It will raise the bar on what you consider comfort food.
Before you rush out to buy brandy and all the other fixings, try the Americanized versions of hearty beef stew below. They pay homage to beef bourguignon and include a few easy updates.
- Chef Kate. "Boeuf Bourguignon a La Julia Child." Food.com. "12/12/05. (10/24/11). http://www.food.com/recipe/boeuf-bourguignon-a-la-julia-child-148007
- Domine, Andre. "Culinaria France." Fall River Press. 2009.
- Food Timeline. "Mirepoix." (10/24/11). http://www.foodtimeline.org/foodsauces.html#mirepoix
- Freson, Robert. "The Taste of France." Stewart, Tabori & Chang. 2008.
- Prepared Pantry. "The Secrets to a Great Quiche." (10/24/11). http://www.preparedpantry.com/Quiche-Secrets.htm
- RouBe cooking School. "Beef Bourguignon." (10/24/11). http://rouxbe.com/recipes/2688-beef-bourguignon-boeuf-bourguignon/text
- Zeldes, Leah A. "Eat this! Cassoulet, a hearty winter casserole from Southwestern France." (10/24/11). http://www.diningchicago.com/blog/2010/01/13/eat-this-cassoulet-a-hearty-winter-casserole/
French cooking 101 will teach you the basics of this grande cuisine. Check out French cooking 101 and brush up on your culinary skills.