Cultural Craving: French Food

March 06, 2013

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Ever get a craving Italian food or a simple Chinese delivery night? This new feature will provide you with recipe steps and wine pairings for those cravings we all get! Enjoy and get cooking!

On a cold winter day, resourceful cooks are looking for something easy to throw together at home. But who said that easy meant boring? French food has long been regarded as a high-end and labor intensive cuisine. And yet, one dish defies this stereotype. Layered in creamy mushrooms and stewed vegetables, beef bourguignon’s decadent flavor stems from its secret ingredient—wine. As this dish simmers, the wine does all the work for you, breaking down the connective tissue in the meat, leaving an earthy, warm aroma.

As the name suggests, this is a French dish and is commonly misinterpreted as a high-end entrée. However, food snobs beware: beef bourguignon is really just a dressed up beef stew. It doesn’t require the skill set of a classically trained chef, let alone beckon a high quality cut of beef. In fact, it originated from the Burgundy region of France when peasants developed a method of cooking meat in wine to tenderize it. This, coupled with patience and care, created a rich recipe that only gets better with time.

Despite these humble beginnings, beef bourguignon’s reputation joined the haute couture arena of the culinary world. This, along with most French food, was considered an unapproachable recipe for American housewives until culinary revolutionary, Julia Child, demystified the dish in “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” in 1961. Regarded as “one of the most delicious beef dishes concocted by man,” Child put practicality back in the kitchen by including this budget-conscious recipe.

Child braises the beef in a medium-bodied red, typically from the Burgundy region of France. However, given the resourceful beginnings of this dish, try something equally fruit-forward like a young Missouri Chambourcin. An earthy varietal, it will strike an all-star balance in the stew and coincidently, pair well with the final product.

Beef bourguignon, despite its lengthy procedures, is an inexpensive dish to make. This adapted recipe takes cost and practicality into account; mirroring Child’s philosophy that cooking should not be daunting or expensive, but approachable and fulfilling. With its meaty bite and soothing finish, beef bourguignon holds true to this testament, making it a classic winter favorite. Enjoy it, here!