All recipes paired with wine, Beef

Beef Bourguignon

Beef Bourguignon

Planning a dinner with friends, I was in one of those moods when I felt that it was time to open some ” special bottle of wine”. I planned to open Hewitt 2003 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon from Rutherford – Napa Valley. If you are familiar with the wine, you will agree that such wine deserves a special meal to be paired with. I didn’t want to go to obligate way and make a steak, so I tried my version of Beef Bourguignon.

You know, the one that Julia Child introduced to America. Remember how in the movie Julie/Julia the young Julie was making this dish for some food critic, and poor girl fell asleep and burned the dish in the oven? I have seen quite a few different recipes for Beef Bourguignon, less and more difficult. At the end, I created my own version, and it came out fabulous! Just give this dish the proper care, time and you will be in heaven. At least I was. To enjoy the food is the same like enjoying the good bottle of wine. Don’t rush anything! Also, do not use a slow cooker. The flavors are entirely different.

I have actually done the meat a day ahead – so the rich gravy really came out great. You are going to need a lot of French baguette to dip!


  • 4 lbs trimmed beef chuck, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 5 large garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 shallot
  • 15 white mushrooms
  • 1 leek
  • 3 bay leafs
  • 8 black peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1 bottle of full body red wine, such as Cabernet, Shiraz, Syrah, Malbec or Bordeaux blend
  • 8 small fingerling potatoes or baby red, cut into half
  • 3 large carrots, divided into quarters lengthwise, or about 15 baby carrots
  • 4 slices of thick bacon, diced into small pieces
  • half a stick of unsalted butter
  • 12 white pearl onions, halved
  • plenty of fresh thyme sprigs
  • fresh parsley
  • oil


I started with meat – cut into pieces and seasoned with salt and pepper. In a large saute pan heat oil over high heat. Brown the meat on all sides, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the meat to a paper towel–lined baking sheet to drain. Repeat with the remaining meat, adding more oil if necessary.

Get heavy and large pan with a lid (or Dutch oven)  and start with heating a teaspoon of butter – add 2 cups of diced onion, bacon, shallot, 3 of the garlic cloves, add 6 of each thyme and parsley sprigs, sliced 1 carrot, 5 of the mushrooms sliced, leek, bay leafs and all the peppercorns. Saute for few minutes until translucent. Add browned meat, bring to high heat again and add whole bottle of red wine. If you work with gas stove, please use caution since the alcohol may catch a flames. Despite all the articles that states that it doesn’t matter what kind of wine you use, because it cooks out, I disagree. The better wine you use, the better the sauce will be. That doesn’t mean that you have to use an expensive bottle of wine. Just use something you would drink. There are plenty great reds around $10 – and it’s worth the investment 🙂

Bring to boil, cover with a lid and turn the heat down to low (or place into preheated oven at 350°F. Set your timer for 1 and 1/2 hours and go to do something else. Most likely you wouldn’t need to add more liquid – but if you do, use the stock. Check on the meat when the time is up and continue cooking it for another 1/2 hour if the meat isn’t tender enough. Set aside, let cool and chill in fridge overnight.

Next day, carefully transfer the pieces of meat to a deep, ovenproof pan or use the same dutch oven. Strain the liquid over the meat and mush through strainer to get every bit of all the good flavors in. It also helps to separate the fat that firmed overnight. Warm the meat in the oven for about 5 minutes, basting occasionally.

Heat butter in a medium saucepan and add baby carrots with 3 thyme sprigs, 2 garlic cloves and 1 tablespoon of salt. Saute over medium heat until golden and add 1/2 cup of water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 4 to 5 minutes, or until tender. Drain, discard the seasonings, and add to the meat.

Repeat the same with pearl onions – saute on butter first and than add a little bit of water or stock, and simmer until tender. Cook potatoes in a little bit of water with thyme sprig until done, but not overdone. At last, heat more butter in the same saucepan, add halved mushrooms with remaining thyme and parsley, and saute for 4-5 minutes until soft.

Add potatoes, carrots, mushrooms and pearl onions to the meat and toss gently. If you like thicker sauce, you can add a half a cup of beef stock mixed with 2 tablespoons of flour. Roast in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the meat and vegetables are hot. . Serve immediately with a lot of crusty bread. This dish is a lot of work and requires some time, perhaps perfect for a snowy weekend. But believe me, you will be rewarded. Bon appétit!

Wine pairing suggestion:
I already wrote that I served this dish with big Hewitt Estate Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa. It’s wine to collect and not the house wine (at least for most of us). I can recommend much more affordable Hess Collection Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa or Newton Claret (a Bordeaux varietals blend) from a steep Spring Mountain. Whatever wine you pick, make sure it’s something special with this “king of beef” dish.

All recipes paired with wine, Ground meat, Lamb

Not so Greek Musaka

This meal is not so easy to arrange nicely (sorry for the pic) but trust me, super delicious to eat!
Yeah, my apology to Greek’s traditionalists, I dare twisted the famous Greek meal. I know that the original musaka is layered with a thin slices of eggplant like lasagna. Not that it wasn’t good enough for me, I just wanted to try something different.

I have to say, it came out so good, we couldn’t get enough of it! Super comfy food especially now, in this cold and snowy weather. If lamb meat has too strong a flavor for you, you can mix it half and half with beef. I had 100% lamb and it was divine!

Twisted Musaka

1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground lamb
1 large onion chopped
4 cloves garlic
1 medium size eggplant chopped into little cubes
3 tbs dry oregano
1 cup red wine
1 tbs Cinnamon
salt and pepper
Fresh thyme – few sprigs
1 large can of crushed tomatoes in puree
1/2 lb small shape pasta (your choice)
olive oil

Spread chopped eggplant onto baking sheet, covered with paper towel, season with salt and let sweat for 10-15 minutes. Pat dry with another paper towel.

In the large heavy bottom pot heat olive oil and saute onions until soft, for few minutes. Add all the meat and breaking it up with a wooden spoon, brown the meat until cooked. Add finely chopped garlic and spices.

Pour in red wine, mix together and let cook for a minute. Add tomatoes (break them up in your hand) and cubes of eggplant. Let mixture cook, uncovered, for at least one hour or until reduced (to about half) and thickened.

In the meantime bring water to boil in the large pot, season with salt and cook about pasta to “al dente”. Drain, add a table spoon of olive oil and mix together. Set aside.

When the sauce is cooked, reserve 1 cup of meaty sauce on the side. Pour pasta into the sauce and mix together so the hot sauce coat the pasta well.

Pour the pasta mixture in a prepared large baking dish. No need to grease it first.

For a cheesy cover:
1 table spoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup of milk
1 cup grated Parmesan
1 cup of Greek yoghurt
2 eggs
Salt and pepper

Cook flour on melted butter and mix, creating the roux. Pour in milk and mix until thick, making Béchamel sauce. Add almost all the Parmesan cheese, season with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Mix and let cool. Add 2 whole eggs to warm (not hot) sauce and reserved cup of meaty sauce. Mix in Greek yoghurt. Stir and pour all over the meaty sauce with pasta in the baking dish.

Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour in oven. Serve in the baking dish and let all your guests dig in right away and help themselves. You don’t want to miss that amazing aroma when you first cut into the cheese crust and it opens the layers of delicious, cooked lamb mixture with wine and all the spices.

As I said at the beginning, this dish isn’t easy to arrange for photo shoot. But trust me, you will be reaching for a second serving!
It makes my mouth watering just writing about it. I wish somebody invented a pictures on web with aroma attached.

Wine suggestion:
You can open any big red that you were longing to drink for a very long time. It’s a comfort food time! Spicy Malbec, delicious Cabernet Sauvignon, Brunello, Barolo, GSM – many choices here. I have paired this dish with one of the best Syrah based wines I ever tasted – Finca Sandoval from Manchuela, Spain. The pairing with rich flavors of lamb and spices of this dish was out of this world!