We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Mrs. BD had a tough week with four days and nights of meetings in NYC, then moving my in-laws to a new elderly place an hour away from here in the last 2 days (boxes and boxes of stuff, then computers, lamps, comfy chairs, pictures, and more boxes, big TVs, moving guys, hospital bed, etc).
So I asked her what might please her tonight. She said "Funny you ask, cuz Beef Bourguignon was on my mind". I like making stews, so ok. I make these things on the fly, no measurements. Always works. French chef taught me to cook soup and stew by instinct and taste. It should be ready by the time she gets home from the old folk's home tonight. Yes, I did send my father-in-law some more nice vino to keep the old guy happy. The wines they serve at the old folks home are disgusting, and old guys need the wine for good cheer.
- Around 1 or or 2 lbs. of chuck, cut into 1-2 inch chunks. Flour them, then brown quickly in butter and/or bacon. Toss them into a pot or crock pot with a container of beef broth and begin the long simmer.
- Grab a handful of thyme twigs from the garden and throw them in. I would have tied them as a garni but could not find the string. Then plenty of salt and pepper in the pot. Semi-chopped parsley too.
- Cut up a bag of carrots into roughly 1-2" lengths and throw them in.
- Sautee one or two chopped big onions with a bunch of garlic cloves, and throw them in.
- Throw in a bottle, of half-bottle, of decent red wine. The really cheap stuff does not work. My friend uses some port too, but why waste it?
- Throw in some good squirts of ketchup if you are out of tomato paste.
- Throw in a glob of grape jelly and a splash of wine vinegar.
- Quarter a big or small box of brown mushrooms, and toss in. I always always throw in a handful of dried porcinis too (affordable on Amazon). Wow - porcinis are a flavor for the kitchen gods.
- Keep all covered with more wine, stock, or water. Crock pot never needs that.
- Towards the end of simmering or crock pot (a few hours - too long is better than too little), I throw in a bag of frozen pearl onions. I love them.
- Really close to the end, I throw in a bag of frozen peas. For color I guess.
- Serve on/with rice or egg noodles. I like egg noodles but noticed that we are out of 'em. If the juice is too thin, thicken it a bit.
There's a secret ingredient to stews and soups: Better than Bouillon, which comes in a whole bunch of different flavors: Garlic, beef, turkey, chicken, vegetable, chili, etc. Costco has big jars of it, but you can get it in the grocery too. It's a paste form of bouillon and a flavor enhancer. A teaspoon of 'beef' and another of 'vegetable' into your Beef Bourguignon will add a depth and subtlety to your flavor that will amaze you, even if yo're already using broth. It does of course contain salt, so you have to compensate elsewhere. But I use these in a whole lot of dishes.
The spoon of grape jelly was a big surprise and something that I will try in the future. Make sense. I have been adding a lot of Italian dressing to recipes and it has almost always improves the recipe.
I've just bought a cookbook that recommends grinding porcinis to powder and adding them to roast meat rubs.
Adding grape jelly or Italian dressing is another of saying that lots of stews and soups benefit from a bit of sweet and a bit of sour. As they say: hot, sour, salty, sweet. Onions and carrots do well for the sweet, while tomatoes do well for the sour, but a little sweetened vinegar is a fast addition. Also, the grape jelly plus red wine is more straightforward than wasting good port in a soup.
Agreed about the dried porcini. I add them with the stock at the beginning. At the end, when you add the peas, I also throw in some quartered white button mushrooms that have been browned in butter. You can brown the little onions with them too if you like. I typically use a couple of bay leaves and some fresh rosemary from the garden along with the thyme.
I am suspicious of the grape jelly idea, though apparently you have lived to tell the tale.
Instead of cooking things like this on the stovetop, where it needs frequent stirring to keep the bottom from burning, once it comes to a boil I stick it into a 225 F oven. No further stirring needed!