One of my favorite little outings in Paris is finding a restaurant where I can sit outside and partake in that restaurant's version of Boeuf Bourguignon.

I took my friend, Bonita, back to a restaurant where I had had what I considered one of the best boeuf bourguignon that I've ever tasted. Yes, it was an outside cafe where we could view the Eiffel Tower and all the world passing by. We waited until 2:30 to have lunch. I wanted to be really hungry. I was psyched.

Last year as I tasted each delicious spoonful at this restaurant, I emitted a "mmmmmmm" sound. My table neighbors were wondering why a single diner was making sounds that usually two people make in another setting. The rich gravy was like ..... I can't put it into words. Then, imagine dipping a little piece of a crusty French baguette into that gravy ... OMG. Then a little sip of your Pinot Noire... Stop, stop ... I can't take anymore.

I've tried making boeuf bourguignon at home but it's a long and ardous process as we witnessed in "Julie and Julia" but I did find an absolutely delicious and easy recipe in Ina Garten's "Barefoot in Paris" cookbook. I love Ina Garten and other than the fact that her recipes are the easiest and the tastiest of all the TV chefs, she has a home in Paris. I figure that gives her a certain credibility, doesn't it? Below is Ina Garten's recipe. Be sure to serve it with crusty French garlic bread and a great bottle of red wine of your choice.
Bon appetit.

Ingredients: (Serves 6)

1 tbsp good olive oil
8 oz bacon, diced
2 1/2 lbs beef chuck cut into 1 " cubes
kosher salt
ground pepper
1 lb carrots, sliced diagonally into 1" chunks
2 yellow onions, sliced
2 tsp chopped garlic (2 cloves)
1/2 cup Cognac or good brandy
1 (750 ml) bottle good dry red wine, like Burgundy
2-2 1/2 cups canned beef broth
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
4 tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter @ room temperature, divided
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 lb frozen small whole onions
1 lb mushrooms, stems discarded, caps thickly sliced

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven like a Le Creuset. Add the bacon & cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is lightly browned. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a large plate.

Dry the beef cubes with paper towels and then sprinkle them with salt and pepper. In batches in single layers, 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 with the bacon and continue searing until all the beef is browned. Set aside.

Toss the carrots, onions, 1 tbsp of salt, and 2 tsp of pepper into the fat in the pan and cook over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the Cognac, stand back, and ignite with a match to burn off the alcohol. Put the meat and bacon back into the pot with any juices that have accumulated on the plate. Add the wine plus enough beef broth to almost cover the meat. Add the tomato paste and thyme. Bring to a boil, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid, and place it in the oven for about 1 1/4 hours, or until the meat and vegetables are very tender when pierced with a fork. Remove from the oven and place on top of the stove.

Combine 2 tbsp of the butter and the flour with a fork and stir into the stew. Add the frozen onions. In a medium pan, saute the mushrooms in the remaining 2 tbsp of butter over medium heat for 10 minutes, or until lightly browned, and then add to the stew. Bring the stew to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes. Season to taste.

NOTE: Ina didn't put potatoes in her recipe but I do. I like to add some fingerling or new potatoes. I ask you .... what is great gravy without potatoes?????


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