Slow-Cooked Beouf Bourguignon Can Be Quick and Easy Plus Elegant

      Ever since dropping by Dana Gibson‘s relocated eponymous shop and studio on Horsepen Road last week, I haven’t been able to get these good-looking crockpots out of my mind.

A friendly creative force, Dana sells her beautiful ceramics and other home decor items in high-end specialty stores throughout the country, and she has now licensed two of her trademark designs to Hamilton Beach, which had the inspired idea to dress up its 6-quart utilitarian slow-cooker.  These are so pretty that you could leave one of them sitting out on your counter all of the time if you are a crockpot aficionado.

      I am really not such an aficionado because most of the recipes that I have read call for either too much pre-pot preparation or cream soups.  I have absolutely no patience for browning the meat in one pan before transferring it to the crockpot.  I do have one crockpot recipe, though, that is truly superb not only because it comes together in about 10 minutes max, but also because it tastes as good as it makes my house smell while it is cooking.

      This recipe was featured years ago in the weekly, syndicated Desperation Dinners column that used to run in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.  I still use a handful of the D.D. recipes that got me through the years of heavy afternoon carpooling that defined my life as a younger mother.  This version of French beef stew tastes nothing like desperation and would be absolutely fabulous cooking on your countertop in one of Dana’s fancy crockpots.

Slow-Cooking Boeuf Bourguignon

1 can (14 ounces) reduced-sodium, fat-free beef stock
1 cup burgundy wine or other full-bodied red wine
¼ cup water
1 envelope
(1.2 ounces) plain brown gravy mix, such as Knorr
2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic
2 bay leaves
¾ teaspoon dried thyme
5 slices already cooked bacon, (see note)
1 large onion (for about 1 cup chopped)
20 baby carrots
8 ounces sliced fresh mushrooms
2 pounds beef cubes for stew, well marbled
1 bag (16 ounces) frozen small whole onions,  or 1 jar small whole onions, drained (not pickled onions)
Salt to taste, if desired
3 tablespoons cornstarch
5-6 ounces rinsed and dried baby spinach leaves (optional)

Pour the beef broth, wine and water into the crock of a 4½-quart or larger slow cooker.  Pour the powdered gravy from the envelope into the broth mixture, and whisk until any lumps disappear.  Sprinkle the garlic, bay leaves and thyme over the broth.

Cut bacon into 1/4-inch pieces.  (Do not crisp bacon first.)  Scatter bacon in the crock.  Peel and coarsely chop the onion.  Scatter the onion pieces, baby carrots and sliced mushrooms evenly in the crock.  Place beef cubes evenly over vegetables, and press down and stir as necessary to make sure most of the beef is submerged in the broth mixture.  Add whole onions to the crock.  Cover the crock, and cook on the low setting for 8 hours.  (The stew can cook on low as long as 9 hours.)

Before serving, remove lid and stir stew well.  Remove bay leaves, and taste the broth and season with salt, if desired.  Mix the cornstarch and 3 tablespoons of water in a jar that has a lid.  Shake well until mixture is smooth and no lumps remain.  Pour mixture evenly over stew.  (The stew needs to be hot when you do this step.)  Stir well.  (Optional:  Add spinach onto top of the stew after mixing in the cornstarch liquid.  It will wilt and can then be stirred in as the gravy thickens.)  Continue stirring from time to time until stew reaches desired thickness, about 5 minutes.

Serve in  6 bowls.

Start to finish: 10 minutes preparation, plus 8 hours unattended cooking time.

From “Slow cookers perfect for fast-paced lives”, Desperation Dinners, October 6, 2004, by Beverly Mills with Alicia Ross, syndicated by United Features Syndicate Inc.

      This dish is elegant and tasty enough to serve to guests.  It may not be Julia Child, but Slow-Cooking Boeuf Bourguignon will leave you relaxed, sated and proud.  You can choose whether to let your diners know how easy it truly is to make.

All photos but the first by Avad Fan.

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One Comment on “Slow-Cooked Beouf Bourguignon Can Be Quick and Easy Plus Elegant”

  1. Meg Medina says:

    Looks delicious! In fact, I’ll make this tomorrow. It’s the heaven-sent answer to a long day with bookend appointments!


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