Every Christmas Eve, as I’m tying the last ribbon around the last present and setting the table for the big Christmas meal, my heart skips a beat of gratitude or two, and I can’t help but think how great it would be if it were already December 26th. Such a Scrooge-like sentiment to share on Christmas Eve, I know, but isn’t Boxing Day when vacation really begins – at least for the folks in charge of making all the sugarplum fairy dreams of Christmas come off without a hitch? There’s nothing more delicious to me than waking up on the 26th of December and realizing that the mad rush is behind me. The presents are (mostly) delivered. The groceries shopped for. The parties given and attended. It’s just me and the people I love the most, gathered around the fire in our pajamas, reading books, addressing the Christmas cards that never made it out the door, and doing what we should have been doing all along: being grateful for each other.
This year, we’ve complicated my Boxing Day idyll by traveling through the Miami International airport headed to sunnier climes, so I’ll have to think of it as a moveable feast. Wherever you’ll be on the 26th, this recipe for Boeuf Bourguignon from the New Basics Cookbook (a must have!) never fails as the perfect accompaniment to an evening by the fire or around the kitchen table with the folks who mean the most to you.
Recipe adapted from The Silver Palate New Basics Cookbook
8 oz thick sliced smoked side bacon, cut into small dice
3 lb well-trimmed boneless beef chuck, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup chopped onions
salt and pepper, to taste
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
3 cups Burgundy wine
3 cups beef stock
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary leaves
3 to 4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch julienne
2 cups white or red pearl onions
8 oz fresh cremini, shiitake or chanterelle mushrooms
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp red currant jelly
2 tbsp chopped Italian parsley
Preheat the oven to 350F. In a flameproof casserole or Dutch oven, sauté the bacon until crisp, then remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
Pour off all but 1 tbsp of the bacon drippings. Over medium-high heat, sauté the beef a few pieces at a time, until browned on all sides. Add the chopped onions to the beef, and sprinkle with salt, pepper and flour. Cook over high heat, stirring constantly for 5 minutes.
Add the wine, stock, tomato paste, reserved bacon and rosemary, and bring to a boil. Cover the casserole and transfer to the oven and bake until the meat is tender, about 2 hours.
Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables: Bring a small pot of water to boil. Drop in the carrots and cook until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water and drain again, then set aside. Make a small X in the root end of each pearl onion. Drop them into boiling water and cook for 5 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water and drain again. Peel and set aside. Slice the mushrooms lengthwise. Melt butter in a skillet, add the mushrooms and sauté over medium heat for 10 minutes, then set aside.
When the meat is cooked, transfer the casserole to a stovetop burner and add the carrots, onions, mushrooms and red currant jelly. Heat through, about 7 minutes. Serve garnished with the chopped parsley.
I serve mine over garlic cheese grits with a bibb lettuce salad and crusty French bread.