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Colder weather calls for hearty stews like Beef Bourguignon

December 1, 2009
By Wendy Monro

I'm in awe of the crunch the leaves emit beneath the weight of my feet and how they blanket my lawn as if preparing it for a cold winter to come. I cannot bring myself to rake. I feel as if the earth needs this protective layer. Come springtime, I promise, they will be gone. But, for now, I must be grateful for their beauty and warmth. Don't get me wrong, I think it is commendable how many people diligently rid their lawn of leaves once the trees are bare. It is just a difference of opinion and another perspective of aesthetics. Neither is right or wrong. Both are beautiful.

I eagerly anticipate the inevitable colder days to come, much colder days. Yes, even the -20 days in winter are thrilling. The wind chill factor and how jeans don't protect you from it. The pain in your face from a subtle breeze in the air and how you have to wrap a scarf around everything except your eyes sometimes just to walk into the grocery store. I think growing up in Southern California made me appreciate these extreme changes in weather. But wait, I am getting ahead of myself; it's fall and this season needs the attention it deserves. We can't think of it as merely a prelude to freezing days to come.

Living most of my life in a climate where the weather remains at clear skies and 70-plus degrees gets old. I like variety. Minnesota has the most perfect seasons: each one exactly as it should be. We are very lucky indeed. As if overnight, everything went from green to red and yellow to brown. Bald eagles soar over Highway 13, deer peer out from behind garages in New Ulm, and ripples of waves caress Lake Hanska from the increasing strength of the breeze.

Article Photos

Simmering beef and vegetables in a bottle of burgundy wine makes a hearty stew (next photo) perfect for the colder seasons.

I enjoy the misty mornings on my way to take the kids to the bus and the crackle of walking on the frosty grass. It's great to pull out your boots and sweaters, hats and scarves, and get chances to wear them. With each new season comes inspiration for meals that suit the climate. We, Minnesotans, are lucky to have so much encouragement from Mother Nature to make a variety of delectable dishes.

For fall, I think we are in need of some hearty comfort food. We should make food that will warm and nourish us from the inside out. Beef bourguignon does the trick. How could beef, garlic, spices and tons of red wine not taste delectable? It has to be fantastic. To make it even better, after you work on the initial preparation for about 20 minutes, you just leave it to work its magic for hours as you do what you want to do. Also, once you have a bit for dinner that first evening and put the rest in the fridge... it's even tastier the next day, once all of the herbs and spices have had a good chance to truly get acquainted.

Apparently, the French used to make this dish as a way to make cheap and tough cuts of meat palatable by simmering it in wine for hours. However, beef bourguignon has become a staple in haute cuisine. This is because, although it is simple and inexpensive to make (this recipe cost me about ten dollars in ingredients), it is so delicious. You can make it in a Dutch oven or stock pot and allow it to simmer for hours while your home becomes bathed in the scents of a French cafe. You can make it in a crock pot and allow it to cook longer than two hours if you will be away from home. When you return to the smells of your kitchen, you will think you hired a French chef. Either way, your home will smell amazing while this stew cooks. You and whomever you are feeding will not believe your taste buds. Bon Appetite.

Fact Box

Beef bourguignon

Time: 2 1/2 hours

Serves: 6

2 1/2 lbs. beef roast

1/4 C. olive oil

1 1/2 C. flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp pepper

3 large potatoes, peeled and sliced thick

3 large carrots, sliced thick

6 cloves of garlic, sliced thick

2 C. button mushrooms, slice and saut in 1 tsp. butter

4 bay leaves

2 Tbsp mustard seed

1 Tbsp dry thyme

1 Tbsp dry rosemary

1 bottle burgundy wine

2 1/2 C beef broth

1/4 C. sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

Cut beef into 1-1/2 inch cubes. Pat the beef dry with a paper towel. Mix flour with salt and pepper. Roll the cubes of beef into the flour.

Pour olive oil into a pot and place on medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, but not smoking, place the cubes of beef into the oil. You want to brown each side of the cube. Do not let the meat touch each other. You may have to brown it in stages. Once the cubes are browned on all sides, place on a paper napkin.

Pour the rosemary, garlic, mustard seed, and thyme into the oil. Add the onion and carrots. Let these saut for about five minutes. Pour in the wine to deglaze the pot. Add the broth and the sauted mushrooms.

Sprinkle the remaining flour (about 1/2 C.) over the potatoes. Add the beef cubes and potatoes to the pot. Make sure everything is covered in liquid. If not, add more wine and broth to cover stew.

Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer with lid on for two hours. Take the lid off and skim off the oil which has accumulated on the top. Add sugar. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Please visit my blog at www.yovia.com/blogs/simplyfood to watch a video of Claud and me making this stew in our home.

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