My favorite French Dinner is easy. Easy to decide upon, and to my mind easy to make. It’s a true classic, traditional, filling and even practical. Oh, and did I mention delicious?
The Main Dish
For the mains it has to be Boeuf Bourguignon (Burgundian Beef). This is the French take on the beef stew. Similar in concept, but with some subtle twists. A little less liquid, or one could say maybe a thicker liquid. It doesn’t abound with vegetables. I prefer this as it gives me an excuse for some truly tasty side dishes.
My favourite recipe for this dish is by Rachel Koo of Little Paris Kitchen and one I swear by – though I do leave off the dumplings. I started making this dish when I actually moved to France. When I began shopping at the French markets and supermarkets, I discovered slow cooked meats. It is this slow cooking that gives this dish its amazing flavours.
It’s a dish that is meant to be sat on the stove top at least a couple of hours. Make it the day before if you really want the best flavour. I have made it in a slow cooker as well. It does end up with more liquid than in the traditional way, but still quite tasty. And, again, if left to serve up the next day, this will reduce some of the stock and intensify the taste.
The beef for Bouef Bourguignon is generally bought already cut up in cubes in France, and is also usually one of the cheapest cuts of meat. Visiting the butcher, I simply have to tell him what I am cooking and for how many people. He then measures out the appropriate amount of beef I would need. Of course, I could also buy ready packaged selections of meat, but that is not nearly as much fun.
Side Dish One
Potatoes Dauphinoise is a must as the carbohydrate side dish. It is something that sits wonderfully alongside Beef Bourguignon. This is because the creamy nature melds beautifully with the richness of the beef’s sauce.
This is another slow cook dish. It takes a little preparation effort, but then it goes in the oven and you can let it do its cooking thing for awhile. Like the bouef bourguignon it is simple in its ingredients, but stunning in its results.
My go to recipe for Potatoes Dauphinoise can be found at BBC Good Food.
Side Dish 2
To round out the meal with a vegetable dish, it has to be Carrot Vichy. It adds a true touch of flavour decadence. And yet it is actually simple to make. But, like the other recipes above, you do need time.
The recipe I use was taught to me by Pumpjack. You will need 2 good sized carrots per person. Slice into discs. Thickness is up to you, but the thicker they are the longer it takes to cook. One small onion, peeled, sliced in half and then thinly sliced into slivers.
In a thick bottomed sauce pan put in a good spoonful of butter, enough that is going to coat the bottom of the pan well when melted. Put the pan on very low heat, a simmer sort of heat. When the butter is just melted, add the onions. Swish them around in the butter for a minute. Get them good and coated with the butter. Then add the carrot slices. Add good two pinches of sugar and two of salt. Stir. Put a lid on the saucepan and let simmer until the carrots are al dente. (Prick with a fork to determine desired consistency for yourself). Stir occasionally and make sure it doesn’t burn.
The onions will steam (don’t forget that lid!), adding moisture and keeping the butter from burning, but you still have to check it now and then. This is a dish that can take 10 minutes or 30, depending on how many carrots you put in, how thick you sliced them and how intense you wish the flavours to be.
Et Voila! Your French Dinner
This meal is honestly delicious at any time of year, but especially on cold days. When the warmth and smells from the kitchen create a food styled hug. It makes a great meal for a Sunday dinner, if you are so inclined. With hopefully left overs to be had during the ensuing week. Its flavours will go on to improve even more.
I have made this meal for special occassions, including Christmas. And it is my go to meal when we have visitors, especially from abroad. All the dishes can be made the day before, and heated through before serving. If you choose to do this, shorten the potatoes and carrots cooking time by about 10 minutes. My preferred way is to cook the Bourguinon the day before, then slow cook an additional hour or two before serving on the day. The potates and carrots I begin their process the day before, but do the oven and stove top cooking on the day. This lets those lovely smells welcome my visitors with a taste of France.
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