Boeuf Bourguignon

This is the PERFECT winter stew to make feel cozy and warm. It is really easy, but you do have to allow the stew to simmer for a couple of hours so the meat becomes tender and succulent...the flavors really meld and become just, well, awesome. ;) It is a wonderful meal for company, because you can really play up its gourmet characteristics, but tonight, it was the comfort food to accompany a relaxing Friday night.

When I first started making this a couple years ago, I used a recipe from Ina Garten (love her!), but have gradually produced my own twist on the classic. It pairs perfectly with a light salad or vegetable and crusty, buttered bread. Tonight, I had some asparagus on hand, as well as, some homemade wheat bread from a local bakery. The bread was the perfect "soak-er-up-er"...no comment on what I just typed. You get the gist.

Now there are two different ways to cook this...if you have a lovely dutch oven that can start on the stove and transfer to the oven, you can bake the stew (once you've got everything going) for 1 1/2 hours...OR, you can easily simmer it on the stove for 1 1/2-2 hours as well. Whatever floats your boat. Tonight, I did use my dutch oven, but I kept it on the stove the whole time - I like to change it up from time to time. ;)

The Ingredients:

A couple Tbsp. olive oil
2 1/2 pounds beef stew meat - cut into 1-inch pieces
Couple of handfuls of flour (enough to lightly flour the beef pieces)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound carrots, sliced diagonally into 1-inch chunks
2 yellow onions, sliced
1-2 cloves minced garlic
1 (750 ml.) bottle dry red wine (I've prefer Pinot Noir)
2 cups low-sodium beef broth
A bunch of fresh mushrooms stems discarded, caps thickly sliced...amount is your call

For serving: Country bread or Hearty Wheat (can also toast or grill if you like it that way...I like it every way I've ever tried it)

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F (if you are cooking it in the oven...)
Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven/ stock pot. Sprinkle the beef cubes with salt and pepper, then lightly flour. In two batches, sear the beef in the hot oil for 3 to 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove the seared cubes to the plate and continue searing until all the beef is browned. Set aside on a plate. Toss the carrots, and onions, a Tbsp salt and 2 tsp pepper (little more, little less) in the pan and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. You may have to add another Tbsp or two of olive oil to keep them from sticking to the bottom...depends on your pot.

At this point, add the garlic and cook for another minute. Put the meat back into the pot with the juices. Add the bottle of wine (yes, an entire bottle) plus enough beef broth to almost cover the meat. Bring to a simmer, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and place it in the oven for about 1-1 1/2 hours or leave on medium-low on the stove until the meat and vegetables are very tender when pierced with a fork. You can always taste to see if it is falling apart with tenderness yet. Saute the mushrooms in 2 tablespoons of butter or olive oil for 10 minutes until lightly browned and then add to the stew. Simmer a few more minutes. Season to taste.
Now, cozy up on your couch or light the candles for your guests - either way, you are in for a treat.

Ah, there, I found my buttered piece of bread - hmm...already looking forward to the leftovers.....
Oh, and we got a new camera...can you tell? :) It was our Christmas present to each other...and yes, I realize it is a couple weeks early, but you gotta jump on those Black Friday sales when you can! Also, Christmas will be here in the blink of an eye! I'm working on posting more pictures per my math man's request... ;) Needless to say, I'm very excited to have the camera! ;)