One of the benefits of spending so much time in France is that I have been able to cook a lot, which I don’t usually do when we travel. At first it was a little bit challenging because things in the grocery store weren’t quite what I was used to back home. Rather than get frustrated that I couldn’t find American ingredients in France, I decided just to lean in to French cuisine. As a result, I’ve learned to make several French dishes that I’m really proud of!
So this is the post where I pretend to be a food blogger!
I have made this several times. I felt confident enough in my abilities that I actually made it for Christmas dinner and it was delicious! I’ve tried a few recipes, but my favorite is a simplified version of Julia Child’s classic recipe by Cafe Delites. Here’s a link to the full recipe with all of the preamble before it, but I’ll just get straight to it:
- 1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 6 ounces (170g) bacon, roughly chopped
- 3 pounds (1 1/2 kg) beef brisket, trimmed of fat (chuck steak or stewing beef) cut into 2-inch chunks
- 1 large carrot sliced 1/2-inch thick
- 1 large white onion, diced
- 6 cloves garlic, minced (divided)
- 1 pinch coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 12 small pearl onions (optional)
- 3 cups red wine like Merlot, Pinot Noir, or a Chianti — for a milder sauce, use only 2 cups of wine
- 2-3 cups beef stock (if using 2 cups of wine, use 3 cups beef stock)
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 beef bullion cube, crushed
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped (divided)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 pound fresh small white or brown mushrooms, quartered
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).
- Heat the oil in a large dutch oven or heavy based pot. Sauté the bacon over medium heat for about 3 minutes, until crisp and browned. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a large dish and set aside.
- Pat dry beef with paper towel; sear in batches in the hot oil/bacon fat until browned on all sides. Remove to the dish with the bacon.
- In the remaining oil/bacon fat, sauté the carrots and diced onions until softened, (about 3 minutes), then add 4 cloves minced garlic and cook for 1 minute. Drain excess fat (leave about 1 tablespoon in the pan) and return the bacon and beef back into the pot; season with 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt and 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper. Sprinkle with flour, toss well and cook for 4-5 minutes to brown.
- Add the pearl onions, wine and enough stock so that the meat is barely covered. Then add the tomato paste, bullion and herbs. Bring to a simmer on the stove.
- Cover, transfer to lower part of the oven and simmer for 2 to 3 hours, or until the meat is fall apart tender (adjust the heat so that the liquid simmers very slowly).
- In the last 5 minutes of cooking time, prepare your mushrooms: Heat the butter in a medium-sized skillet/pan over heat. When the foam subsides, add the remaining 2 cloves garlic and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds), then add in the mushrooms. Cook for about 5 minutes, while shaking the pan occasionally to coat with the butter. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Once they are browned, set aside.
- Place a colander over a large pot (I do this in my clean kitchen sink). Remove the casserole from the oven and carefully empty its contents into the colander (you want to collect the sauce only). Discard the herbs
- Return the beef mixture back into the dutch oven or pot. Add the mushrooms over the meat.
- Remove any fat off the sauce( if any) and simmer for a minute or two, skimming off any additional fat which rises to the surface.
- You should be left with about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat the back of a spoon lightly. If the sauce is too thick, add a few tablespoons of stock. If the sauce is too thin, boil it over medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until reduced to the right consistency.
- Taste for seasoning and adjust salt and pepper, if desired. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables.
- If you are serving immediately, simmer the beef bourguignon for 2 to 3 minutes to heat through.Garnish with parsley and serve with mashed potatoes, rice or noodles.
- To serve the following day, allow the casserole to cool completely, cover and refrigerate.The day of serving, remove from refrigerator for at least an hour before reheating. Place over medium-low heat and let simmer gently for about 10 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce.
Coq Au Vin
Literally translated, this is chicken in wine. If you haven’t noticed, I have discovered the joy of cooking with wine! It adds so much flavor! And if I’m not in wine country drinking wine, I may as well be cooking with it! My favorite Coq Au Vin recipe is by Ina Garten, a.k.a. The Barefoot Contessa. I watched this video tutorial before I made it and found it to be really helpful:
- 2 tablespoons good olive oil
- 4 ounces good bacon or pancetta, diced
- 1 (3 to 4-pound) chicken, cut in 8ths
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 pound carrots, cut diagonally in 1-inch pieces
- 1 yellow onion, sliced
- 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
- 1/4 cup Cognac or good brandy
- 1/2 bottle (375 ml) good dry red wine such as Burgundy
- 1 cup good chicken stock, preferably homemade
- 10 fresh thyme sprigs
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
- 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 pound frozen small whole onions
- 1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, stems removed and thickly sliced
- 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 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove the bacon to a plate with a slotted spoon.
- Meanwhile, lay the chicken out on paper towels and pat dry. Liberally sprinkle the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. When the bacon is removed, brown the chicken pieces in batches in a single layer for about 5 minutes, turning to brown evenly. Remove the chicken to the plate with the bacon and continue to brown until all the chicken is done. Set aside.
- Add the carrots, onions, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper to the pan and cook over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the Cognac and put the bacon, chicken, and any juices that collected on the plate into the pot. Add the wine, chicken stock, and thyme and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and place in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is just not pink. Remove from the oven and place on top of the stove.
- Mash 1 tablespoon of butter and the flour together and stir into the stew. Add the frozen onions. In a medium saute pan, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and cook the mushrooms over medium-low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until browned. Add to the stew. Bring the stew to a simmer and cook for another 10 minutes. Season to taste. Serve hot.
When we were in Paris we took a crepe making class and learned all the secrets of making the perfect French crepe! Unfortunately, I can’t share the recipe with you, because I promised to keep it a secret. Désolé! But I can tell you this much–one of the secrets to amazing crepes is fresh, high-quality ingredients. If you ever get a chance, I highly recommend taking a crepe class! It was so much fun!
In the meantime, here’s a link to a recipe for Easy French Crepes.
Thanks for coming to my pretend food blog! I’ve loved learning to make new French foods. If you give any of these recipes a try, I’d love to hear about it in the comments!
For more things I’m learning in France, check out 25 Reflections: Joy of Walking.