I have a list of a few classic French recipes that I’m going to make before Michael and I go to France in September; Boeuf Bourguignon, Coq au Vin and Chocolate Souffle to name the top three. Yesterday I decided to tackle Beef Bourguignon as a welcome home dinner for my husband who was gone for the weekend. Being an Ina fan, I used her recipe. She tends to take laborious recipes and make them doable. While I’m rather new to this whole cooking thing, I greatly appreciate a user-friendly approach or a time saving tip.
For anyone wondering, beef bourguignon (BB) is a classic French dish of beef brazed in red wine (burgundy). It closely resembles beef stew with carrots, onion, and mushrooms as the primary additions. Brazing the meat in liquid for a decent amount of time tenderizes it so the meat is juicy, and very tender.
I was a little apprehensive when the cooking directions said, “Add the Cognac, stand back, and ignite with a match to burn off the alcohol.” Having never done this before, I got out my kitchen fire extinguisher and a set of long matches. I was nervous that it wouldn’t work and also nervous that it would work. I poured a ½ of brandy in the pot, lit the match, hovered it over the pot and stood back. Viola flames. I was so elated, at this small triumph I felt like Julia Child.
Having never had BB before, I had nothing to compare it to. It tasted like a beef stew brazed in red wine. So I guess that’s good considering that’s what it is. However, I’m not a big stew fan. I would probably never order stew in a restaurant. Although I may order BB, simply so I have a better reference. But if something else looks better on the menu, changes are I’m going with that. I guess I made it simply for the experience. Good, bad or indifferent, I now have BB under my belt and it’s on to a new adventure. It may be a while before I make Coq au Vin, considering it’s basically BB with chicken.
I also made a French Apple Tart for dessert. I had made it a few nights before for some girlfriends and it was a huge success. However, one thing I didn’t epically like is it smokes a great deal in the oven. Some of the butter and sugar don’t get absorbed by the apples and pastry so they run off to the sides of the parchment lined pan and burn. I’m not sure how to avoid this. Ina’s photo is perfect, so apparently it doesn’t happen to her, so I’m unsure what I’m doing wrong. Anyway, as Michael and I ate the tart, I noticed it tasted different and I couldn’t place it. It had been much better when I made it the first time and I could not figure out what I did differently. Walking the dishes to the kitchen I saw the bowl with the glaze sitting on the counter. I forgot to glaze the tart post baking with the apricot jam mixture. Not wonder it was dry. Note to self: don’t forget the glaze!