05 October 2009

Benito vs. the Cold and Rain: Bœuf Bourguignon

Following a wine tasting with Fredric, I snagged a couple of leftover bottles of Mazzocco Zinfandel. We tasted through eleven bottles, and I've written previously about the wines during my visit to the winery. I'm not going to go into detail on the wines here, but I will note that fresh out of the bottle many of them are hot and hard to appreciate--15-16% alcohol on all of them, with a few creeping up a bit above 16%. However, with a day of rest after opening, or a few hours of decanting, they're really quite pleasant.

If you find yourself in possession of a pint of leftover red wine, then it's a good excuse to make the classic French dish Bœuf Bourguignon. I roughly followed the recipe from the New York Times, and in the attached article it was noted that the Julia Child recipe, while popular with the success of the recent movie, is too much for the residential kitchen. This is originally a peasant dish that is simply made in a single cooking pot.

I'm not bashing dear Mrs. Child here, nor am I slighting those loyal fans that have gone home and faithfully recreated her recipe. I'm sure it's delicious. But I've made demi-glace from scratch. It took 12 hours. I've made traditional Sauce Robert that took two days. I've helped cook a whole hog that required 24 hours of slow roasting. Sometimes I want the challenge and wish to dirty up every pot and pan in the kitchen. Other times I just want to make dinner.

Served over a bed of broad flat noodles and enhanced with a double quantity of mushrooms, the one-pot dish provided a satisfying dinner for the three of us at the table. Two went back for seconds, always a good sign. With cold weather right around the corner, this is a perfect fall/winter recipe that is even better as leftovers. As with many savory stews, the flavors mingle and improve with a day or two of rest in the refrigerator.


fredric koeppel said...

LL and I were in Puebla in 2007, the city where mole sauce was invented four centuries ago and of course we were fascinated by the intensity and variety of the mole sauces that we tried. so when we got back i said that I wanted to prepare homemade mole, but when i saw the authentic recipes i thought perhaps not; they too were 2 or 3 days recipes that would probably totally occupy the kitchen. maybe this fall, though.

Benito said...


That's something I was thinking about for this fall as well, maybe even Thanksgiving. Rick Bayless has some great mole recipes, and there's one with roast duck that makes me drool just thinking about it.

Fortunately most of the ingredients are easy to find in Memphis now... I'm just deciding whether or not I want to use a molcajete to hand grind all the ingredients.