It never fails: my family expects to eat every night… And since I’m not the most proficient cook, coming up with ideas for yet another meal that has a prayer of going over well with everyone in the family can be a true challenge. Especially considering that my kids have opposing taste profiles, yet both share equally high bars for the quality of their meals. Talk about Mom Stress! I’ve managed to find a few recipes that have been universal hits and aren’t too challenging for my lack of skills, so I want to pass them along.
The first is the French classic found in Ina Garten’s Beef Bourguinon. Fear not! This dish sounds much more elaborate than it actually is, but it is still downright delicious. It’s also one of those blissful meals that can be prepped and put in the oven during afternoon nap, then magically comes out at dinner time as a pot full of deliciousness.
First, you’ll need to gather your ingredients and a good French/Dutch oven. I originally bought the Kirkland enameled version as I was afraid I wouldn’t use it often enough to justify the Le Creuset price, but it turns out it is my very favorite piece of cooking ware and I should have sprung for the real deal from the getgo! Now that you have an expensive pot, you can start saving some money with your gourmet meals made at home! (For this recipe, I buy the cubed steak/stew meat at Costco, then pare it down to roughly 1″ cubes and have a $10 bottle of brandy from Trader Joe’s in lieu of cognac)
Next, you toss your cut ingredients into your hot pan of oil, one by one, to brown/sear/soften them. You also get to throw in 1/2c of cognac or brandy and light it on fire to make the carrots heavenly (PLEASE do not burn yourself or your house – use a stick lighter and bring the flame only *near* the top edge of your pot – that is enough to ignite the alcohol). Once all of that is taken care of, you add them back to the pot and you in a bottle of Pinot Noir and some beef stock. Tuck that big pot of delicious smells into your oven for an hour and fifteen minutes and, voila!, dinner! Oh, and don’t worry about omitting things if they’re not favorites in your house. My kids refuse to eat anything that has mushrooms or visible onions, so I just make it without mushrooms or the pearl onions (the sliced ones aren’t noticeable). It’s still excellent.
I know you’re now telling yourself that you can just skip that whole sourdough bread part… But I’ve tried this dinner with and without serving it over the piece of lightly toasted sourdough and let me just say RUN TO THE MARKET NOW AND BUY THE BREAD! It takes a dinner that is really very good into “How many servings can I take before I explode?” territory.
So there you have it, a delicious dinner that looks like you slaved away when, in actuality, it’s totally manageable! I’ll be back with more crowd-pleasing dinners and would love to know what’s always a hit in your house!