My wonderful husband celebrated a milestone birthday at the beginning of March. I won't get all sappy here about the truly endless list of good things he's brought into my life, but I will say that we fell in love over food. Since the beginning, we've loved cooking with and for each other, trying new things, and working as a team. One of the ways we like to celebrate birthdays is with a special meal prepared with love.
The next three posts are going to share the food I made for his birthday! Today is dinner, tomorrow is birthday cake, and Friday is the food served at a birthday brunch I hosted for him and our friends. Let's get to it!
I took off a Friday from work to prepare for brunch, bake a cheesecake, and coordinate his big birthday surprise. I wanted to make something fancy and decadent for dinner, ideally something by Julia Child, but knew I had to simplify or I'd drive myself crazy. I turned to the slow cooker.
The Kitchn has a slow cooker boeuf bourgignon that totally fit the bill. Her version requires:
8 ounces thick-cut bacon (5-6 slices)
2 1/2-3 pounds beef chuck roast, round roast, or other similar cut, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cups good red wine (I chose Pinot Noir)
2 medium-sized onions, thinly sliced
3 medium-sized carrots, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 cup chicken or beef broth, plus more if necessary
1 pound white button mushrooms, sliced
In a cruel twist of fate, I completely forgot bacon. The bacon is mainly used as the flavor-and-oil vessel for searing the meat, but I had to slum it with plain old olive oil. Anyways, season your beef heavily with salt and pepper. Once your oil starts to shimmer, add the beef and sear on each side.
Then, these go into the slow cooker.
Deglaze the pan with a splash of the wine.
What is deglazing? Basically, you use a liquid to loosen up all the delicious bits of food that stuck to the bottom of the pan while you seared the meat. It's full of flavor and once you deglaze, pour the wine and unstuck flavorful bits on top of the seared meat.
Next up, cook your veggies. The vegetable mix used here is traditionally referred to as a mirepoix - carrots, onions, and celery. Soften the mirepoix in a pan and then add the garlic and tomato paste. Once they're done, also add to the pot. Then, add your mushrooms to the stovetop pan and cook them until they're golden brown. Put these aside - you'll add them to the mix right before you serve.
Pour the rest of the wine plus one cup of stock over the meat and vegetables. I also added 2 bay leaves and a bunch of fresh thyme sprigs. Cover and cook on low for 6 - 8 hours. Right before you serve, toss in the mushrooms and stir around to bring them up to the same temperature.
In the words of the inimitable Julia, BON APPÉTIT! I served this over rice and broke out our china for the occasion. The meat fell apart, the vegetables were soft and flavorful, and the broth was rich and delicious. I would definitely make this fancy-looking fancy-tasting easy-to-make meal again!