Wednesday, December 17, 2014

My Birthday Dinner

So many people made me feel special on my 31st birthday, but I've gotta give it to my amazing husband, who slaved away in the kitchen to present me with a homemade, FRENCH gourmet dinner after I got home from work. 

And, c'etait magnifique! 

Here's the recipe for you to try at home... You know, the next time you feel like tackling a beloved French dish. Bon Appetit!

Boeuf bourguignon avec des quenelles de baguettes
(Burgundy beef with baguette dumplings)

Here's what you'll need:
  • 2 lb beef shin or stewing beef, cut into 6 large chunks
  • 3-4 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed until flat
  • 1 bay leaf
  • a bunch of parsley stalks
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • 3 cloves
  • 10 peppercorns, crushed
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 1.25 cups water
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • a pinch of sugar
  • 7 oz stale baguette or other bread (crust included)
  • 1 cup milk
  • a pink of nutmeg
  • salt and pepper
  • a handful of chopped parsley
  • 1 egg
  • 10 chestnut mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp butter, for frying
Preparation time: 45 minutes
Cooking time: 3 hours


Preheat the oven to 300F. Dust the meat with 2 tablespoons of the flour. Heat the oil in a large casserole dish over a high heat and fry the meat in batches until browned. Remove each batch, then fry the lardons, onions, garlic, herbs, and spices in the same pan until golden brown. Return the meat to the pan and add the wine, water, tomato paste, and sugar. Scrape up the caramelized bits- they will add flavor. Cover, place in the oven, and cook for 3 hours or until the meat is tender and almost falling apart.*

Cut the baguette into small cubes and place in a bowl. Bring the milk to a boil and pour over. Stir so that the milk is absorbed evenly, then cover and leave for 15 minutes. Season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper; stir in two-thirds of the chopped parsley and the egg; and mix in 1 tablespoon flour. If the mix is too wet (it should be moist and only slightly sticky), add the remaining tablespoon of flour. Wet your hands a little to help stop the dough sticking to them, then make 12-14 dumplings (smaller than a golf ball).*

About 20 minutes before the stew is ready, add the mushrooms and season with salt. Heat the butter in a large frying pan and fry the dumplings on a medium heat for 5 minutes or until golden brown and crisp, then drain. Garnish the stew with parsley and serve with the dumplings. 

*Make the stew the day before to give the flavors time to develop. Add the mushrooms before gently reheating (no boiling). The dumplings can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for 2 hours. 

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