“Every year…millions of bottles of a fresh, fruity Gamay from Beaujolais are poured to celebrate the new vintage,” writes S. Irene Virbila in a recent Los Angeles Times article. “Banners all over France — and the world — proclaim ‘Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé!’ French restaurants, of course, get into the spirit of things big-time.”
Shortly after the Paris attacks, when the world became more attuned to all things Paris and France, I viewed a show on television about the annual French festival, celebrating the arrival of the 2015 Beaujolais wine. What a contrast, I thought, between the festivities and the tragic events that had taken place just a week before. And so, when I came across an abundant supply of Georges Duboeufs 2015 Beaujolais Nouveau that was festively displayed for the Thanksgiving holiday, I thought it appropriate to celebrate France and support the Parisians by buying a bottle.
As it turns out, 2015 was considered an exceptional harvest, making the Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Noveau an unexpected and inexpensive delight. Considered a medium-bodied, light wine with cherry and raspberry notes, it is easy to drink, sounds magical, is “festive, friendly and joyful”* and certainly makes one merry! That the bottle was colorfully and joyfully decorated, and that the wine was a beautiful rosy pink violet color, was an added bonus.
In the light and merry spirit of a French Beaujolais, ATG offers three hearty holiday recipes that use red wine. All three dishes are better made one day ahead of serving, especially the Boeuf à la Bourguignoone.
Sauté de Boeuf à la Bourguignonne or Beef Sauté with Red Wine, Mushrooms, Bacon, and Onions (inspired by Julia Child, this is a combination of several different recipes and is meant to be a general guide to cooking Boeuf a la bourguignonne “au pif.”)
2 & 1/2 pounds filet of beef cut into small pieces about 2 inches across and 1/2 inch thick
4-5 slices good quality thick-cut bacon, sliced into 1 inch pieces
1 & 1/2 cups red wine
1 & 1/2 cups beef stock
1 clove garlic, mashed
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1/4 tsp. thyme
1 tbsp. flour
1 tbsp. butter
20 small white onions
1/2 pound mushrooms, quartered
Salt and Pepper
Sauté the beef pieces that have been salted and peppered in olive oil and butter over moderately high heat 2-3 minutes on each side to brown the exterior but keep the interior rosy red. Set the beef on a side dish. Brown the sliced bacon in the sauté skillet until cooked through, not overly crispy, remove and set aside. Pour most of the fat out leaving enough to sauté the onions lightly until coated and then the sliced mushrooms lightly until coated. Add a little bit of butter as you are sautéing if necessary. Remove onions and mushrooms from skillet and place in bowl and put aside. Add the wine, beef stock, garlic, tomato paste, and thyme back into the sauté skillet and slowly boil down by half. Remove skillet from heat.
Make the flour butter paste and then whisk into the boiled down sauce in skillet and simmer for 1 minute correcting seasonings, adding more pepper and salt if necessary. Arrange the bacon, mushrooms, onions, and beef pieces in oven-proof casserole dish and pour sauce over and bake in 300 degree F oven for approximately 1 hour or until meat is fork tender.
Bolognese (inspired by Barbara Lynch’s cookbook Stir)
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 large celery stalk, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
2-3 large cloves of fresh garlic
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 & 1/2 pounds ground sirloin or 1/2 pound each of veal, pork, and lamb
1 cup dry red wine (Beaujolais or Chianti)
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, finely chopped (do not discard juice)
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1 cup heavy cream
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Heat olive oil and one tablespoon butter in large deep skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, celery, and carrot and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 6-8 minutes. Add the ground meat in batches, letting it brown a little before adding more. Season with salt and pepper and continue cooking and stirring until meat is completely browned. Add the wine, increase the heat to medium high and boil, stirring occasionally to break up any clumps of meat, until the wine has been reduced, about 10 minutes or so. Add the finely chopped tomatoes with their juice, tomato sauce, tomato paste and basil. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook, uncovered, until the sauce is thick, dark, and rich, for at least 1 hour. After an hour add cream and cook for another 20 minutes or so. Serve over pasta, topped with freshly ground pepper and grated Parmesan cheese.
Coq Au Vin (adapted from Julia Child’s cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking)
4-5 slices of good quality thick-cut bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tbsp. butter
2 & 1/2 – 3 pound cut-up frying chicken
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/4 cup cognac
2-3 cups young red wine – Beaujolais or Chianti
1-2 cups chicken or beef stock
1 tbsp. tomato paste
2 cloves mashed garlic
1/4 tsp. thyme
1 bay leaf
12-24 brown-braised onions
1/2 pound sautéed mushrooms
3 tbsp. flour
2 tbsp. butter, room temp.
In a heavy casserole skillet, sauté bacon slowly in hot butter until it is very lightly browned and then remove to side dish. Brown chicken in the hot fat of bacon and season with salt and pepper. Return bacon to the casserole skillet with the chicken and cover and cook slowly for about 10 minutes, turning the chicken once.
Uncover, and pour in the cognac. Averting your face, ignite the cognac with a lighted match. Shake the casserole skillet back and forth for several seconds until the flames subside.
Pour the wine into the casserole. Add just enough chicken or beef stock to cover the chicken. Stir in the tomato paste, garlic and herbs; bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer slowly for 25-30 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and its juices run a clear yellow when the meat is pricked with a fork. Remove the chicken to a side dish.
Blend the butter and the flour together into a smooth paste (beurre manié). Beat the paste into the hot liquid above with a wire whip. Bring to a simmer while stirring and simmer for a minute or two until the sauce thickens slightly. Reduce heat to low.
For the onions, use 1-2 tablespoons each of butter and olive oil and sauté over moderate heat for 8-10 minutes. Then transfer sautéed onions to a shallow baking dish and pour 1/2 cup of beef stock, dry white or red wine, or water over and season with salt and pepper, 1 bay leaf and 1/4 teaspoon of thyme. Bake in 350 degree F oven for 40-50 minutes, turning them over once or twice. When done they should be very tender, retain their shape, and be a nice golden brown.
For the mushrooms, sauté quartered mushrooms in 2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon oil over medium to high heat until nicely browned. Season with a little salt and pepper.
Place chicken back in casserole skillet and arrange mushrooms and onions around the chicken and baste with the sauce. Bring to a simmer and then cover and simmer slowly for 4-5 minutes until the chicken is hot through. Serve on a hot platter with sprigs of fresh parsley.