This past weekend I cooked with my son for his cultural awareness project in French I. He’s a high school freshman and I ‘m fairly certain that he is taking French due to my influence. It is my second language of choice. I enjoy French culture, especially French food. We prepared Boeuf Bourguignon. I explained to my son that Boeuf Bourguignon is a peasant dish that originated in Burgundy, France. As I flambéed the dutch oven with cognac to deglaze the bottom of the pot and whisked in the red wine and beef stock, my son was astonished that these were the ingredients of peasant people. Burgundy is one of France’s main wine producing areas. The vegetables and fruit that grow in this region of the world are commonly kept by everyday folk and they know how to use the abundance of their land. A celebration of the first wines in this region is the mark of another successful harvest, the Beaujolais Nouveau! Not only is the wine good for drinking, it is commonly used in French cooking. We used a bottle of Syrah that was on sale at our local Trader Joe’s (Rabbit Trick). As the aromas from the bacon, beef, wine, garlic, and the bouquet garni made with rosemary, thyme and bay leaves filled the room, we were transported to the land of Burgundy. French music from the Putumayo Paris collection played while we delighted in French culture. It was delicious and fun to make. With each spoonful of herb infused beef broth was a meaty white button mushroom, paired with a pearl onion and tender beef that tasted of a rich region, flavorful goodness. The surprise bits of bacon from the topping kept me sopping each drop. The baguette from Bakery Nouveau in West Seattle made this experience more than a homework assignment. I think we have discovered a new way of life. The kid didn’t think more of the dish than a French version of beef stew. He’ll grow to appreciate it.
This recipe and more will become available in my friends and family recipe collection cookbook, “The Spice of Life” coming Valentine’s Day 2013!