French Comfort

Temperatures have dropped to the frigid lows where I live, and after a long, strenuous week, there is nothing I crave more, than a warm bowl of comfort food. A menu that should be enjoyed with friends. Chilling on the couch. Feet up. Lounging in cozy ("expandables," in my home) sweats, besides a toasty fire.

My preferred style of comfort has an added French flair. Beef Bourguignon (also referred to as Daube). A delicious, comforting, one-pot meal, whose flavors (wait for it......) improve with time. Perfect for entertaining. If you are hosting an evening with casual friends, you can prepare this dish the day ahead (or even two days ahead). Besides maybe homemade chocolate chip cookies, there are few aromas that I enjoy more than wafting smells of a French-inspired menu, that's been simmering for hours on the stove.

So, build yourself a cozy fire, open a nice bottle of wine and enjoy the following FRENCH COMFORT MENU. Beef Bourguignon is the star of this menu, but if you're feeling inspired to treat your guests to a full French meal (recommendations below).....by all means.


3 lbs chuck beef, cut into 1" cubes
1 bottle of dry red wine, such as Cote du Rhone or Pinot Noir
2 cups beef broth
4 carrots, cut in large chunks
2 yellow onions
2 cloves of garlic
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
4 tablespoons butter at room temperature
5 tablespoons flour
zest of one orange
2 bay leaves
handful of oil cured olives
fresh Italian parsley
salt/pepper to taste

ONE: Slice one onion in half lengthwise. Place it cut side down and slice crosswise into thin slices. 
TWO: 24 hours ahead -- In a nonreactive bowl, combine the meat, sliced onions, bottle of wine, thyme, bay leaves and nutmeg. Cover and set aside in the refrigerator for 24 hours to marinate.
THREE: The next day, strain out the meat from the liquid and onions. Reserve the liquid and the onions separately. 
FOUR: Lay the meat on a sheet pan and lightly dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle all of the with 1 tablespoon of flour.
FIVE: In a large covered casserole pot, heat 2 tablespoons of oil until slightly smoky. Begin to brown the meat, being careful not to overcrowd the pot. Good browning is essential, in order for the meat to retain its flavor. The meat should be browned on all sides. Should take about 6-8 minutes to brown each batch. Immediately season the meat with salt and pepper.
SIX: Once all of the meat has been browned, slice the remaining onion as you did before. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil and add all of the onions (marinated and non) to the pot. Saute until soft.
SEVEN: Add the carrots, garlic and the browned meat to the pot with the onions.
EIGHT: Pour in the reserved marinade liquid and enough stock to barely cover the ingredients in the pot.
NINE: Bring to a simmer and cook, covered for 2 hours. Taste for seasoning (add more salt if necessary). Cook for an additional 1 1/2 hours, or until meat is extremely tender. 
TEN: Blend butter with flour in a bowl. 
ELEVEN: During the last 30 minutes of cooking, add the zest, olives and the blended butter. Stir to combine. 
TWELVE: If you are serving the next day -- Allow the daube to come to room temperature, cover and refrigerate. Discard any fat that has solidified on the surface. Gently reheat and serve. If you are serving that same day -- Allow to come to room temperature and reheat when ready to serve.
THIRTEEN: Top each bowl with some chopped parsley.

Bon Appetit!

Thumbnail Images//Michael Liska Tumblr

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