A Fresh Classic Beef Bourguignon
Slow Cooker Beef Bourguignon is simple and elegant
While I use my slow cooker year round, the fall and winter are the perfect times to use the slow cooker. And the perfect time for the French classic of bistros, Beef Bourguignon.
Let’s set the scene. Skies are gray. Leaves are turning. There is a chill in the wind. A small cozy kitchen with Glen Miller playing in the background. The well-worn apron is on and ready to cook this classic French dish made famous by the food superstar, Julia Childs to American audiences on her PBS Show.
The Classic Bistro Meal
I have made Beef Bourguignon the traditional way in a cast iron pot on the stove and oven. Given an opportunity to use my slow cooker allowing me the freedom of not having to watch the stove, I jump at it. I love a good slow cooker recipe. Especially when they have a bit of class to it. And what is classier than Beef Bourguignon? Basically, it is a beef stew made with carrots, mushrooms, potatoes, and fresh herbs. What makes it special is the use of red wine.
Making Beef Bourguignon
While I’m not a fan of slow cooker recipes where you have to do a prep cooking and prefer dump-and-go, since it is a Sunday, I decided to do a luxurious meal. Started my base for Slow Cooker Beef Bourguignon with bacon. This is not for the faint of heart since the bacon fat is used in the recipe. Once the bacon is done then I removed and add the seasoned beef cubes searing them. Put the bacon and beef in the slow cooker. Pour in red wine working the nice bits leftover and reducing it then add beef broth, tomato sauce, and soy sauce. Blend that nicely then whisk in the flour. Allow the mixture to become thicker then pour over the bacon and beef. Add minced garlic, fresh thyme sprigs, carrots, mushrooms, and tiny potatoes. Give it a good stir. As a side, you could add pearl onions.
Now the slow cooker recipe I had for this beef stew asked for red cooking wine. Honestly, I don’t know what cooking wine is nor do I care to use it. My philosophy of cooking, while I don’t drink wine or beer, is to use the real stuff. Nice red wine. I had a red Italian wine that did the trick. And do we think the French use cooking wine? Didn’t think so. They use table wine on hand. It also asked for chicken broth, I used beef broth instead. Both additions make it richer. More authentic to how the French would prepare it.
Slow Cooker Beef Bourguignon is ready to slow cook to moist flavorful perfection. I added fresh thyme from my garden. Always add fresh when you have an opportunity. The broth is going to rich with the wine, broth, tomato sauce, soy sauce, and thyme. You may want to add a crusty baguette.
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Slow Cooker Beef Bourguignon
- 5-6 slices bacon, cut into think slices
- 3 lbs. boneless beef chuck, cut to 1 inch cubes
- 1 cup red wine, whatever red you have on hand works
- 2 cups beef bone broth
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup flour
- 3 Tablespoons minced garlic
- Handful of fresh Thyme
- 5 Medium Carrots, sliced
- 1 pound tri-color baby potatoes
- 8 ounce fresh mushrooms, sliced
- fresh chopped parsley for garnish
- 1 In a large skillet cook bacon over medium high heat until crisp. Put bacon in slow cooker. Salt and pepper the beef and add to the skillet and sear on each side for 2-3 minutes. Transfer beef to the slow cooker.
- 2 Add the red wine to the skillet scraping down the brown bits on the side. Allow it to simmer and reduce and slowly add beef broth, and tomato sauce, and soy sauce. Slowly whisk in the flour. Add the sauce to the slow cooker.
- 3 Add garlic, thyme, carrots, potatoes, and mushrooms to the slow cooker.
- 4 Give it a good stir.
- 5 Cook on low until beef is tender for 8-10 hours or high for 6-8.
- 6 Garnish with fresh parley.
Seriously Not Your Granny’s Irish Beef Stew
Unless your granny puts beef and wine in her Irish beef stew. My Irish Granny would never have put alcohol in any food. OK maybe a drop of sherry in the trifle, but that’s about it. My Mom did not cook with alcohol, either. In fact, I honestly only know of Irish folks my age and younger who cook with beer or wine. Not my Mother or Granny’s generations.
What makes this stew special is two things. One is the use of Guinness stout and lots of it was well as wine. The second is marinating the beef overnight in stout, wine, garlic, and soy sauce. The beef is tender and very flavorful though folks eating it may need coffee and dessert before they leave or they may get a DUI.
Remember, Irish beef stew is not just for Saint Patrick’s Day, but a perfect Sunday slow cooker dinner a cold winter’s evening. As my Mom would say in her Irish accent, “It would warm the cockles of your heart.”
Irish Beef Stew Recipe
- 1 1/4 pounds beef stew meat
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/4 cup red wine
- 2 bottles Guinness
- 3 tablespoons minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons Better than Beef Bouillon
- 3 carrots, peeled & chopped
- 5-6 new potatoes quartered
- 1 large onion chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- Freshly ground black pepper & red pepper, to taste
- 1 bag of frozen peas
- Put soy sauce and garlic in a large freezer bag.
- Add beef then pour one of the stouts and wine over it.
- Seal bag tightly and squish the contents.
- Put in fridge to marinate overnight.
- Strain the juices of the bag into your crockpot keeping the meat separate.
- Sprinkle the meat and garlic with flour and toss to coat.
- Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat.
- Add the floured meat bits and cook, stirring frequently, until the meat is browned on all sides.
- As the beef browns, stir together the tomato paste, remaining Guinness, garlic, and bouillon in the slow cooker until combined.
- Add the meat, carrots, potato, onion, bay leaves along with a good amount of freshly ground pepper and a pinch of red pepper.
- Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
- Shortly before serving, stir in the peas and heat just until the peas are hot.
Comfort Food: Italian-American Spaghetti and Meatballs
My neighbors are Italian-Americans from New York City. Those two can cook like nobody’s business. Most Italian-Americans can cook like nobody’s business. Ten pounds may have found its way to my body alone on their homemade desserts and cookies. Not alone from their spaghetti and meatballs.
Bob who’s family is originally from Sicily – and yes I know most Sicilians and Italians will agree that Sicily isn’t really Italy – tells stories of Sunday dinners. Coming back from church, the smells of tomato sauce simmering on the stove came from apartment’s kitchen window. Sunday dinner was tomato sauce with sausages, meatballs, and oxtails simmered all day to perfection.
To me, spaghetti and meatballs are the ultimate comfort food even though I am not Italian-American. I love making it. It is a process of love. Forming the meatballs. Making the sauce. The smell of it all on the stove. The look of it on the plate. Lastly, the taste of complete satisfaction. You will overeat when you make this. And that’s OK.
Italian-American Spaghetti and Meatballs Recipes
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 4-6 stems fresh Italian flat leaf parsley
- 4-6 stems fresh oregano
- 2-4 stems fresh rosemary
- 2-4 stems fresh basil
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- Add ¼ cup olive oil to a 10-inch high sided sauté pan or a saucepan over medium heat.
- Add the parsley, oregano, rosemary and basil and cooking until the herbs become crisp.
- Remove the herbs and discard.
- Add the onion and garlic to the oil cooking until the onions are transparent.
- Add diced tomatoes.
- Season with kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper and red pepper flakes.
- Simmer for 30-40 minutes or until the sauce reduces and thicken, stirring occasionally.
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 tablespoon parsley
- Salt and pepper
- Combine ground beef, breadcrumbs, cheese, eggs, garlic powder, basil, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Add a little bit of water.
- Mix until well blended.
- Form into 1.5 inches in diameter.
- Set aside and allow them to rest.
- Heat oil in large pan.
- Brown meatballs on all sides.
- Place in tomato sauce allowing them to cook through.
Easy shepherds pie for those busy weeknights
Shepherds pie is a perfect dish on a cold wintery night, but traditional preparation requires time and effort. Now I love to cook; however, there are times when I am really tired and can not be bothered spending lots of time in the kitchen. My guys love their shepherds pie while I do not like the prep time, so that’s where the recipe easy shepherds pie come in.
It is a simple quick recipe for it. I use ground turkey; however, you can use ground beef or lamb. Frozen vegetables are ideal, but thaw them first or you will have a soggy mixture. You can buy refrigerated mashed potatoes or make your own. If you are in a rush and want dinner in 30 minutes then buy them ready-made.
This recipe is about speed while it tasting pretty darn good. It is OK to purchased some prepared foods. From scratch is better, but do not beat yourself up when time is short. The important point is you are making a home cooked meal.
Easy Shepherds Pie Recipe
- 16 oz ground turkey
- 1/3 cup ketchup
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 8 oz frozen mixed vegetables thawed
- 1/2 – 1 teaspoon salt
- Generous turn of the pepper mill
- 16 oz packaged refrigerated mashed potatoes
- 1/4 cup sharp shredded Cheddar
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Cook ground meat in a large skillet over medium heat until no pink remains.
- Stir in ketchup and Worcestershire sauce.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Mix in thawed vegetables.
- Combine mashed potatoes and cheese.
- Move meat and vegetable mixture to an oven proof baking dish.
- Spread mashed potatoes on top of meat mixture.
- Bake for 10-20 minutes.
Makes 4 servings.
A Bit of University with Meat Sauce Belgian-Style
Having lived with Europeans when I was at university then living in Belgium, meat sauce over spaghetti was a staple meal. It feeds a crowd and cheap. All good things when you are a student.
One of my favorite cookbook is Ruth van Waerebeek’s “Everybody Eats Well in Belgium Cookbook.” It is true. Everyone does eat well in Belgium. This cookbook is filled with amazing recipes that will bring your taste buds alive and satisfy your soul. Worth having in your cookbook collection.
Back to the meat sauce. This is a clean out your veggie bin recipe. Most veg will work. I usually make this with mushrooms, red peppers, and onions. Thyme is an addition to the recipe which I love. Most tomato sauces just have basil and oregano. While I do not drink wine, I do cook with it and buy drinkable wine. Best to cook this recipe the night before or in the morning giving the flavors time to blend.
Meat Sauce Belgian-Style
- 3tablespoons olive oil
- 2 onions, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 8 oz package white mushroom, sliced
- 1 carrot, peeled and diced or couple of handfuls of baby carrots
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1lb ground beef
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 heaping teaspoon oregano
- 1/2 heaping teaspoon thyme
- 1 heaping teaspoon basil
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
- 1 28 oz can peeled plum tomatoes, chopped
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- 2 heaping tablespoons tomato paste
- salt and pepper
- 1lb thin spaghetti
- Tabasco sauce(optional)
- 1 cup grated gruyere cheese or Swiss cheese
- Heat olive oil in deep pan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions, bell pepper, mushrooms, and carrots. Cook until soft, 5 to 8 minutes. Add half the garlic and all the ground beef. Continue cooking over medium heat, using a wooden spoon to stir and break up the meat with, until meat is no longer pink.
- Stir in sugar, oregano, thyme, basil, red pepper flakes, and parsley. Add tomatoes and juices, red wine, and tomato paste. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 35 minutes.
- Add remaining garlic.
The Traditional Steak with Mushroom Sauce
My guys love meat. And they love steak. Steak with mushroom sauce is a favorite of ours. It usually is served with a salad and baked potato going for the New York steakhouse feel. Just a lot cheaper. For what it would cost for one steakhouse dinner, I can feed 3-4 people with this recipe. Plus no one has to dress up… i.e. wear pants or drive anywhere.
What I like about this recipe is it is forgiving and allows you to make a great meal with different ingredients. Swap out whatever kinds of mushrooms and wine you have on hand. While it looks impressive, the mushroom sauce is easy to make. Mushrooms, wine, salt, and pepper. That is it. So simple. So good. You can use whatever mushrooms you have available. This time around I used an “exotic” blend for baby bella, shiitake, and oyster. I usually just use regular button mushrooms and buy them pre-sliced. The wine can be white or red. Basically whatever you are planning to serve with the meal. We do not drink wine and only serve wine to guests; however, I always use a good table wine in cooking. It just tastes better and honestly no one gets headaches.
It has taken me a while to learn how to prepare steak well. There really is a skill to it. Tipping my hat those who can do it consistently. I have found that for me it comes down to the heat of the pan and the type of steak. Flat iron steak has become my go-to steak. It is cost efficient and a nice cut of meat.
Steak with mushroom sauce, in my mind, needs a baked potato. I know very traditional of me, but baked potatoes are just darn good with steak. Getting the perfect baked potato can be had. Heat the oven to 450F. Clean a Russet potato. Roll potato in olive oil and sprinkle with Kosher salt. Bake for an hour.
Steak with Mushroom Sauce Recipe
- Olive oil for pan
- 1 1/2 pounds flat iron steak
- 8 – 10 oz mushrooms sliced
- 1/2 cup red or white wine
- 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat.
- Season steak with salt and pepper.
- Cook steak for 5-8 minutes per side for medium-rare.
- Remove steak and let it sit for 5 minutes.
- Throw mushrooms to the pan and cooking until brown and tender.
- Add wine to mushrooms increasing the heat.
- Cook down until slightly reduced.
- Stir in 1/4 spoons salt and pepper.
- Slice steak agains the grain and top with mushrooms.