Feeding Distractions

In the midst of writing a blog post about writer’s block and distractions surrounding the creative process, I decided to make a Boeuf Bourguignon for the first time. Actually, I went to the gym, the grocery store, and then began cooking. The article part I began yesterday and was suppose to “get back to it” today. Well guess what, sometimes writers write recipes.

Boeuf Bourguignon sounds fancy, but its basically just beef stew with red wine. Being a self-prescribed foodie, you would think finding a recipe would be easy, but typical of myself, I couldn’t find one that encapsulated all the flavors I craved. So I did what any good artist does, I took from three different recipes and added my own touches here and there. Don’t believe me? Read Steal Like and Artist by Austin Kleon.

Boeuf Bourguignon for Distracted Writers (Perfect for freezing New England days)

5 to 6 slices nitrate-free bacon. Don’t judge, we eat healthy pork fats here.
3 pounds beef chuck shoulder roast, cut into 2-inch pieces OR just buy the packages of beef cubes for stew like I did. I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel.
2 cups good dry red wine, divided. I used a 2012 Sean Minor Pinot Noir because my neighbor might cry if I use my only red alternative, a 2007 E. Gauguin Chateauneuf du pape, without her. No one needs that.
1/2 cup almond flour. Yes, that’s a real food.
1/2 cup tapioca flour. If you aren’t gluten free, just use 1 cup of regular flour as substitute for the two flours.
2 medium yellow onions, sliced however you like them. Hey, I’m not going to tell you how you should like your onions.
1 to 1 1/2 cups whole baby carrots. I didn’t bother to cut them.
3 whole stalks celery, chopped
1 1/4 cup beef broth/stock
2 cloves garlic, minced— but I ran out and used Trader Joe’s crushed garlic from a jar. Yummy alternative.
1 tablespoon tomato paste. No, I don’t know what you should do with the rest of the can. Make chili tomorrow?
1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, pronounced, in part, like the towns in England and Massachusetts.
5 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
3 1-inch strips of orange zest. I have a feeling this ingredient will be well worth adding.
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
8-9 medium sized potatoes cut into 1 1/2 to 2 inch pieces. I used a mixture of yellow and red potatoes because, diversity.
1 1/2 cups baby bella mushrooms, sliced, even though my husband is not a fan.

1/2 pound of baby peas, fresh or frozen. I’m not a fan of peas, so I’m on the fence about whether to add them. My family loves them, so I might.
Fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped, for garnish. I forgot to buy this, so that’s not happening today.
Horseradish Sour Cream (see below)
Baguette or ciabatta bread. If I was eating gluten, I’d go with the baguette, but I rarely do and my husband prefers ciabatta bread, so I bought that today.

Warm a stainless steel skillet over medium-high heat, or if your natural gas stove top runs hot like mine, then medium is fine. Don’t set off the fire alarm. Add the bacon and cook until the fat has rendered and the bacon looks how you like bacon to be (I personally don’t like soggy bacon, so mine was on the crispy brown side). Remove the pan from heat and transfer the bacon to a plate lined with a paper towel to drain. Pour all but a tablespoon of bacon fat from the pan into a small bowl. After bacon is drained, cut into pieces and set in refrigerator for adding to dish later. You can wait and do this after your dish is all together. Time management.

Pour both flours into a large storage/freezer food baggie. Shake beef cubes in flour combination until covered. Realize the bag is not completely closed and brush remnants off of your workout clothes. Remove beef from bag and set aside. Shake off excess flour and sprinkle with fine sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper for flavor.

Return the pan to medium-high heat without setting off the fire alarm. When the bacon fat is shimmering add a single layer of beef cubes to the pan to sear. It will be necessary to sear the meat in batches, so don’t crowd them into your pan. Nobody likes crowded spaces. Let the beef sear without moving until it releases easily from the pan and the underside is golden-brown, 1 to 3 minutes. Flip the pieces and sear on the other side.

Transfer the seared meat to your slow cooker. Deglaze the pan with 1/4 cup of the wine. Scrape the dark glaze and any crispy goodness from the bottom of the pan as the wine simmers. When the pan is clean, pour the wine over the seared meat in the slow cooker. Add 1 tablespoon of leftover bacon grease to the pan (no need to fully clean) and continue to sear the meat in batches, deglazing the pan with wine between each batch and adding to the slow cooker. The fragrant aroma from the deglazing process might make your eyes roll.

When all the meat is seared and in the slow cooker, tuck the sprigs of thyme and the bay leaves into the mixture.

Add another tablespoon of bacon grease to the pan and reduce the heat to medium. Cook the onions with 1/4 teaspoon of salt until translucent and slightly browned on some edges. Add the carrots and celery, and cook for 2-4 additional minutes. Add to slow cooker and stir with beef cubes.

Deglaze the pan once again with 1/4 cup wine. Once deglazed, add beef stock, 1 1/4 cup of wine, and slowly whisk in crushed garlic and tomato paste until there are no lumps. Add Worcestershire sauce, orange zest strips, ground cloves, freshly ground black pepper and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook uncovered for 5 to 10 minutes. In all honesty, I forgot to let it simmer— we’ll see how that goes. Pour mixture over entire contents in the slow cooker. Mix and cook for an hour (that’s when we’ll add the potatoes).


(without potatoes)

In a clean pan, warm 1 tablespoon of leftover bacon grease over medium heat. Cook the mushrooms until they have released all their liquid and are golden brown. Transfer the mushrooms to a separate bowl and set aside until much later. I put them covered in the refrigerator because I was afraid they might go bad sitting out.

One hour after the dish has been cooking, add potatoes and stir. Cook on low for 5-6 more hours, unless you have a crazy hot-running slow cooker like mine, in which case you will cook it on low for 2-3 hours and then on warm for the rest of the time. Mine will still bubble on warm, and if I don’t check it often, might burn the entire dish. Wouldn’t that be fun after all this work?


(with potatoes)

In the last 10-15 minutes add peas (if you choose to make that kind of decision), mushrooms that had been set aside, and bacon diced in pieces from the rendering earlier.

Serve in a bowl with a dollop of Horseradish Sour Cream on top and a side bread of your choice. Praise the gods of Boeuf Bourguignon as you eat.

*Horseradish Sour Cream:
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 tablespoon prepared horseradish
Minced chives

There you have it, a prime example of how distractions interfere with a writer— I mean, what to feed the writer in your life. I will come back later to add a photo of the finished product, but there are several hours to go until the Boeuf Bourguignon is complete. Now back to that official blog post– coming sometime in the future after I figure out why all my appliances cook on too high of a heat.


Finished product!