Soul Food: The Classic French Bourguignon

In the distant, halcyon days when the kids were young, and life was simple and good, we would painstakingly collect coupons from newspapers to enable us to travel to Paris on a shoestring. There, in the Capital of Love, we would subsist on fresh baguettes, cheeses and hams, washed down by cheap wine (for us parents), as we sat by the Seine or up in Montmatre, eating our cheap simple food.

The kids would press their noses against the window of Fauchon, and ooh-ed and aah-ed over the sumptuous and lavish food, but really, we were happy with what we had.

Our only luxury was popping into this local, traditional café that served only one type of casserole a day, be in coq au vin, poulet chasseur or boeuf bourguignon. The casseroles came in cute little individual dishes with unlimited supply of freshly-baked baguette. The stews were always hearty, rich and warmed the soul.

Here’s my version of the classic bourguignon:

Sauté chunks of braising steak (best ones are those with fat on it), chopped onions and whole garlic cloves in LOTS of butter until browned. Add in button mushrooms, carrot chunks and a large apple (or four small ones). Add more butter, homemade stock, one tablespoon of tomato puree and half a bottle of red wine. Throw in a bay leaf, bring to boil and transfer into a slow cooker or a rice cooker. Season to taste. Cook until the meat melts in your mouth (it could take hours, but that’s it about slow-food, not fast food).

Many years later, we returned to Paris. We could afford lunch at Fauchon by then, but we went looking instead for that sweet cafe. Sadly, it wasn’t there by then, but here’s my homage to Paris in the Nineties.

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