Despite devoting the lion’s share of my time to cooking, even I sometimes just have to throw something in the slow cooker, pray for success, and run. A couple of fairly recent keepers in that category are:
Give me a cold day. Any cold day. Let me have time and peace to stir together something that incubates in my oven gently easing its teasing, come-hither aromas throughout the house and drawing near all who enter. Add an entrancing, captivating book waiting for me during that 3-hour parole and I am a happy girl. Ok, include a balanced, but lofty bottle of wine and the deal is sealed.
For Election Day 2016, I’m spending my time making my streamlined Beef Burgundy. It’ll take my mind off what’s going on, keep me from checking my phone or computer too often, and give Dave, the dogs, and me something great to smell.
Even my streamlined Beef Burgundy takes a good bit of time (I started yesterday) and should be shared. Who needs friends more than on election night? We invited a couple of really close ones for the meal and for the duration–whichever comes first. Continue reading
I cooked Monday for Inter-Faith Hospitality network (IHN) families; it’s something I’ve done for years at more than one church. It’s a way of living life that makes a lot of sense to me; I like to cook and there are people who need dinner. Here in Colorado Springs at First Congregational Church, we bring already cooked or nearly finished complete meals to a church kitchen where families without physical homes gather, eat dinner with us, and then spend the night. A group of churches and temples work together and the homeless people spend a week at one place and then move to another while awaiting jobs and/or permanent housing. It gives all of the congregations a chance to participate without burdening any one financially or otherwise with the full-time housing of the ever-changing group.
Typically, but not always, a dinner coordinator makes contact a couple of months ahead and asks what I’d like to make; for other churches there’s a set menu for each week. The families aren’t the same, so it doesn’t matter if there’s meat loaf on Monday and chicken with rice on Tuesdays, etc. every time. That gives the dinner coordinator a repeating group of tasks that the volunteers become used to. For instance, if I’m a shopping volunteer, I might know that every two months I’ll make a run to Costco for fresh milk, ground beef, chicken pieces, broccoli, spinach, etc. Once a year, I might need to buy paper napkins and cocoa mix. If I’m a cooking volunteer and I’m scheduled for Wednesday, I know I’ll be making baked potatoes with toppings. I find I like both options, though the latter gives me time to spend with other volunteers cooking in the kitchen rather than fixing food on my own at home.
|Made in a deep, heavy 8 quart cast iron pot with a lid (Dutch oven)|
Last year around this time, I made a pot roast with big pieces of butternut squash and halved onions in the oven. A day later I took the leftovers, including the gravy, and made stew. Stew from leftovers is definitely an improvement over freshly made stew. There’s a deeper, fuller, and more flavorful rich quality–without question. It’s just that there’s usually less than when you make a fresh pot. That stew made very quickly with the addition of more onions, celery, and Guinness stout, etc., was divine. I mean it, it was an incredible stew. When my boss tasted it (and she’s a really good cook), she said, “Alyce cooks for God, you know.”
|At the top of Dublin’s Guinness brewery, there’s a 2DIE4 pub…here’s one view.
No who knows totally why one time things are so scrumptious you want more and more — and another time (same ingredients and method apparently) it’s like, “This is ok. Yeah, we can eat dinner here.” Perhaps it’s the quality of the meat (in the case of stew) or maybe it’s a little pixie dust. Your taste buds might be on their “A” game so that you are able to season the pot in an extraordinary way. Truly, I just don’t know. I know when I’m tired — really exhausted– the meal prepared under those circumstances is plebian. I just did that recently, so I know. I know when I don’t give something my undivided attention that it’s bound to be less interesting. (As in the kids are hungry-throw a bunch of cut-up chicken in the oven and make some rice for God’s sake.)
Despite the fact that I make several pots of stew over the winter each year, I remembered that one. I also remembered I was determined to recreate it from scratch if possible. Hence this pot of stew that, by the end of the cooking, morphed into one big pot pie.
|We could choose between three temperatures of Guinness pints. Dubliners love their Guinness and speak highly of the company that has employed and taken care of many of them over the years.|
**If you’d like stew only, add a cup or two more liquid, and skip the biscuits. You could, without question, make the whole pot of stew in a pot on the stove.
**I did not try it, but I’d guess it’s possible to make the stew all day in the crock-pot–cutting down the amount of herbs–, pour it into an oven-safe pot and bake with the biscuits right at dinner time.
**Another option might be (again, I didn’t try this) to cool the stew and top it with puff pastry, brushing the pastry with a little melted butter or an egg wash–one egg beaten well with a teaspoon of water. (If you put the puff pastry on hot stew, it’ll be melting.) You would then need to bake in a hot oven (400 degrees F) until the puff pastry was golden. That might appeal to some cooks more than making biscuit dough. Here’s a method.
**Like Bisquick biscuits? Go on; I won’t know, though I encourage you to learn to make biscuits. I once knew a woman whose husband insisted he married her because she could make beaten biscuits in her sleep.
** I also give directions –see “Cheddar-Dill Biscuits” scrolling down — for baking and serving the biscuits separately if that suits you better.
Come cold, there’s little more satisfying than a pot of stew in the oven. I encourage you to use the oven method if you can. Play cards. Listen to music. Watch “Michael” or “The Quiet Man,” if it’s St. Pat’s One of the interesting things about this stew is it’s made without potatoes though you could add some if you’d like. I prefer other root vegetables and stick with carrots, turnips, parsnips, as well as celery, onions, garlic, and butternut squash. I’ve you’ve no butternut squash, use extra carrots, parsnips, or a combination. Serve this with another couple of cold Guinness stouts or a glass of your favorite Syrah or Côtes du Rhône if you’re not a dark beer person. (You’ll still love the stew; I promise.)
guinness beef pot pie with cheddar-dill biscuits
a look and cook recipe
Total preparation and cooking time: approximately 2 1/2 – 3 hours.
( Read through before beginning. Scroll down for separate ingredients list and biscuit recipe)
|To the second batch of browning beef, add 2 large chopped onions. When beef is nearly brown, add four cloves chopped garlic. Cook a minute, return first batch of beef to the pot, and stir in 2 tablespoons flour. Cook 2 minutes, stirring.|
|Add 4 ounces quartered button mushrooms along with one each turnip and parsnip , 2 carrots, 2 stalks celery, and 1 cup of butternut squash, all cut into around 1/2 inch pieces.|
|Bring to a boil stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasonings. Cover and bake in the oven 1 1/2 – 2 hours or until beef and vegetables are tender and sauce is thickened.|
|Remove from oven and take out the fresh herb sprigs.^ If stew is very, very thick, add a cup water or broth, but no more stout. Biscuits will soak up a lot of the liquid as they bake in the stew.|
|Meanwhile, make cheddar-dill biscuit dough. It’s a very wet dough. (See below for recipe.)|
|Spoon biscuit dough (I used a wooden spoon) onto the top of the cooked stew. Brush biscuits with a tablespoon of melted butter. Biscuits will rise and expand to nearly cover top of pie.|
|Return to oven and bake uncovered another 20-30 minutes until biscuits are golden brown.|
|Serve hot with a crisp green salad. Store leftovers well covered in frig 2-3 days. Rewarm in another casserole in oven.|
Ingredients List (see below for biscuit ingredients): 2-3 pounds beef chuck roast cut into 1 – 1 1/2 inch pieces; salt and pepper; 2 large onions; 4 cloves garlic; 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour; 2 cups each beef broth and Guinness stout**; 4 ounces button mushrooms; one each turnip and parsnip; 2 carrots; 1 cup cut butternut squash; 1/2 cup chopped parsley, 1 bay leaf, and 1 sprig each rosemary, thyme, and sage*; 1/2 teaspoon prepared horseradish or Tabasco.
*You may substitute two teaspoons each dried rosemary (crumbled) and thyme with 1/2 teaspoon ground sage.
**If you don’t want to use beer, use all beef broth.
^ Leave in bay leaf. Whoever gets it has good luck!
cheddar-dill biscuits for pot pie
Cook’s Note: This recipe is for the biscuits cooked in the stew. If you want to bake a pan of these biscuits separately, decrease the milk to 2/3 of a cup and mix until the dough just comes together. Turn out onto a floured board or counter and knead 10 times or so before patting or rolling out the dough until it’s about 1/2-inch thick. Cut biscuits out with a floured 2-inch round biscuit cutter. You could also cut the biscuits into squares or rectangles with a sharp knife. Bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit (220C/Gas Mark 7) on a baking sheet or in a big (10-inch) pie plate for 15 minutes or until golden. You can serve the biscuits with a pie server in the pie plate at center of the table. They’ll stay warm a good long while and your family or friends can help themselves.
- 2 cups unbleached white flour
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons dried dill
- 1/2 cup (4 tablespoons) cold butter, diced–plus 1 more tablespoon, melted for tops of biscuits
- 1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese (Irish cheddar would be fun.)
- 1 cup milk
Stir together dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Add cold butter and using a pastry blender or two knives (you can use just your fingers or even do the whole thing in a food processor), cut in the butter until the butter is mostly blended and the mixture appears sandy. Stir in cheese. Pour in milk and mix well without over-mixing. (Using a large spoon, divide dough fairly evenly around the top of the pot pie and brush with the tablespoon of melted butter before baking.)
Sing a new song; listen to Rob Leveridge,
(first posted october 2012 right here on More Time)
In St. Paul, there’s a high below 1 degree Fahrenheit today. It was -14 degrees when I got up and pressed the button for coffee this morning. I stayed home, cried throughout the inauguration, and did what any self-respecting, frozen food blogger would do. I made beef burgundy…or boeuf bourguignon… If you can spell it, you can make it.
The inauguration poet, Richard Blanco’s poem, “One Today” was one of the highlights for me. The other was James Taylor singing “America the Beautiful,” of course. The speech was so, so fine.
ANYWAY….After all the stir! about Julie and Julia for all that time….and all the hype about boeuf bourguignon, I think we may have come down to earth. I no longer hear neighbors rolling the name of the dish around their hungry tongues and the Meryl Streep or Amy Adams talk is long past the appetizing roles of Julia and Julie. For the record, I’d love a whole movie about Julia starring Meryl Streep. Sadly director Nora Ephron last year crossed the river and is now surely writing all kinds of wonderful things God doesn’t require her to any longer sell.
Beef burgundy, after all, is just beef cooked in burgundy–which is simply–and not so simply– a lovely French wine made in the Burgundy area of France from Pinot Noir grapes. (We make incredible burgundy here in the states–visit Oregon and taste their perfect Pinot Noirs. See below for a brief note about that.) I won’t tell if you cook the beef in some other red wine that you just happen to have or in beef stock if that’s your preference. Of course, then it wouldn’t be beef burgundy. It would be beef cooked in red wine or beef stew.
And the feeling that it’s not beef burgundy if it’s not made according to Julia’s recipe is just not right. HELLO! Is beef stew not beef stew if we don’t make it exactly like our mother did or the same as some cookbook recipe? There are, I’d guess, many French cooks who cook up beef and Burgundy with a few other additions. (Though the French are sticklers for form. See below for a French blogger’s take/photos on the dish.) The typical beef burgundy recipe is, like many French dishes, short on vegetables, and long on directions. While mine still takes 3 hours in the oven, I’ve made a few short-cuts, and added a few more vegetables for health and balance. It’s worth doing a day (or night) ahead and just heating up if you’d like to serve it for company. You then can focus on dessert, the table, work, or giving the house a lick and a promise.
I love that we make most dishes with what’s available or what we need to cook or eat. (I buy several big chuck roasts when they’re on sale at Whole Foods. Then I’m ready for really cold-day meals. My big freezer is, however, in the garage; I have to brave the below zero temps to bring in the meat!) We are not bound to anything written down on earth or on the internet or on Grandma Sadie’s well-worn and stained recipe cards. Use your heart and use your God-given imagination. Turn on the stove, dream, and cook. And while you’re at it, enjoy feeding someone; they’ll enjoy eating this, I promise.
(As I set the table tonight, I glanced through the weekend edition of WSJ, which — funny/odd–had an article on cooking beef burgundy in a pressure cooker! Worth pursuing.)
streamlined beef burgundy with vegetables
-serves 6-8 –can be made a day ahead and reheated
- In a 6-8-quart Dutch oven or oven-safe pot, heat 1 tablespoon each olive oil and butter over medium flame. Add 2 cups thawed frozen pearl onions and 8 ounces of cut-in-half button mushrooms. Sprinkle with a generous pinch each of black pepper and dried thyme. Let brown, then stir, and let cook a bit more until tender. Remove from pot, cool, and refrigerate until later. To the pot, add 3 chopped pieces of bacon and let cook until nearly done. Remove from pot, cool, and refrigerate until later along with the onions and mushrooms. Leave bacon fat in pan. In 3 batches, brown very well 3 pounds of beef chuck roast, cut into 1-2 inch pieces, dried with towels, floured, salted and peppered. (If the pan becomes too dry, add a tablespoon of butter or olive oil. All the brown in the bottom of the pan will come up later.) When last batch is nearly browned, add 2 finely chopped yellow onions, 2 finely chopped stalks of celery, and 3 chopped cloves of garlic. Let cook a couple of minutes, stirring, and pour in 1/4 cup brandy (or red wine) and bring to a boil. Stir to bring up bits at bottom if the onions didn’t do the job. Let cook 2-3 minutes, stirring. Add the beef you browned earlier back into the pot and stir.
- To pot, add 3 peeled carrots cut into 1–2 inch pieces, 2 each peeled and sliced parsnips and turnips (small), and 1 cored and sliced fennel bulb. Stir in 1 tablespoon dried thyme, 2 Turkish bay leaves, and 1 tablespoon tomato paste. Tie up a half-bunch of parsley and lay it on top.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Taste and, if necessary (and I think it is), sprinkle vegetables with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper, and, if desired (I desire), a pinch of crushed red pepper. Pour a 750ml bottle of Burgundy (Pinot Noir) or red Rhone wine and 2 cups beef or chicken stock over all. Cover and place in oven.
- Cook until beef is tender, 2 1/2 – 3 hours. When beef is nearly done, add the reserved pearl onions, mushrooms, and bacon, return to oven until quite hot–perhaps 15 minutes. (If you briefly heat the onion mixture before adding it to the stew, you’ll save time.)
- Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. If too thin, thicken stove top with the addition of a tablespoon or two of flour whisked into 1/4 cup water or wine. Stir in and bring to a boil, cooking until thickened up a bit. ** If stew is too thick, add 1-2 cups of chicken or beef stock (not wine) or water and let heat again stovetop. Taste and re-season if necessary. I like the stew to be loose enough for dunking bread (as I note) or for mashing up a root vegetable in. In other words, you need the gravy.
- Serve hot garnished with a little chopped fresh parsley or, if not needed until tomorrow, cool totally, cover, and refrigerate overnight. Next day, re-heat over low flame slowly, covered, stirring often for a half hour or so. It should come to a boil at least briefly before serving.
- I like it best with big chunks of baguette for dunking, though the usual suspects are new potatoes or, according to my French teacher, egg noodles.
- Typically a little green salad with vinaigrette is served here in the states with the beef. I also like it with some quickly steamed green beans and a drizzle of mustard-vinaigrette as a salad. It’s nice to have something with a bit of crunch for contrast. Serve with Pinot Noir ^^ or French Burgundy.
**You can also use equal amounts of butter and flour, mashed together (buerre manie)–perhaps a tablespoon or two each.
A PHOTO STORY:
|I had no French brandy or cognac; I do keep Asbach Uralt in the house.|
|I used an inexpensive A-Z Pinot (2008) for cooking.|
|I freeze tomato paste in small bags and just take out what I need.|
THE WINE–skip this if you’ve got the wine figured…
Quality Burgundy (French) is pretty pricey, though there are some at lower price points worth drinking. Check at the wine shop if you’re set on a European wine.
^^There are many great Oregon Pinots--Sineann, Ken Wright, Cristom, Bethel Heights, WillaKenzie, Soter, Privé, Domaine Serene, and more… Read about Oregon Pinots here, though F&W gives a different list of favorite wineries. These are, mostly, special occasion wines ($40 and up), but a couple of vineyards are producing lower-priced or entry level Oregon Pinots (Ken Wright –$30–and Tony Soter–$20– that I know of).
Beef Burgundy is worth a special occasion wine like an Oregon Pinot Noir. It’s a fine meal you don’t make too often. But….if you really can’t splurge for the night… A much lower-priced Pinot that’s not a shame to drink might be A-Z or even Angeline. Inexpensive (or cheap) Pinot Noirs aren’t worth drinking. (I’d rather drink coke and be sober is the tag line.) You might want to buy a French Rhone red wine instead, which is a blend often dominated by the Syrah grape, inexpensive, a decent value, and consistently tasty. Ask someone at the wine shop which Rhone they like. Buy three bottles if you can; one to cook with, one to drink, and one for leftovers. You could try different producers and see which you like best.
OTHER INFO YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
A French food blogger’s boeuf-bourguignon with lots of photographs.
Want to watch Julia’s first French Chef show on how to make Boeuf Bourguignon? It’s very entertaining and there’s tons to learn! See her taste the stew out of the cooking spoon… Note her washing machine and dryer in the kitchen and hear her say SEWTAY.
Sing a new song,