Beef Bourguignon-Inspired Risotto

Cold weather food. There must be something instinctive about craving it. Even two hundred years ago, if you wanted fresh produce in the winter, you were probably shit out of luck.

Instead, you were most likely consigned to eat some stew with tough cuts of meat from the animal you slaughtered last season, and cooked it for hours or days with a bunch of vegetables and dried herbs.

Speaking of, have you ever heard of perpetual stew?

My appetite has recently led me to cook stewed beef and warm, tomato-y pasta dishes. Things that cook low-and-slow, and have little bit more oomph than yet another “30-minute meal.” Although, I know those recipes have their time and their place. No judgement here.

As I’ve been doing lately, I frankensteined two of my favorite dishes together – this one satisfies the craving for both beef bourguignon and risotto.

I basically drew out the elements of beef bourguignon – the traditional vegetables, herbs and beef – and put them into a red-wine and beef stock infused Arborio rice, cooked in the same style as traditional Italian risotto.

This of course can and should be tweaked according to your own favorite, passed-down beef bourguignon recipe, if you have one. I’m using a variation of Ina Garten’s beef bourguignon here, which if I remember correctly she adapted from Julia Child.

Trust me, when you serve this dish at the right time in the right place, it will hit the spot.

I N G R E D I E N T S

This recipe serves 2, double the recipe to serve 4, and so on. 

The only caveat is the more rice you add, the longer it takes for the risotto to cook, so adjust accordingly.

  • 2 high-quality beef filets
  • 4 oz. good quality bacon, diced
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 6 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted
  • 1 lb. porcini mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and medium diced
  • 1 / 4 cup water
  • 1 / 2 bag frozen pearl onions (or fresh pearl onions, if you can find them)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
  • 1 cup dry red wine (Cote du Rhone is best for this dish)
  • 1 quart beef stock
  • 1 / 2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, shredded
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more for vegetable sautee
  • 1 / 2 teaspoon black pepper

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Preheat the oven to 375*.
  2. Remove the filets from the fridge and allow to sit until they are room temperature. Pat the filets dry and season liberally with salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
  3. Brown the bacon on medium low heat until crispy in a heavy-bottomed pot. Add the butter. Once melted, stir in the rice, and cook for 2 – 3 minutes or so until the rice has had a chance to warm through and toast.
  4. In the meantime, pour the beef stock into a small saucepan and heat until just simmering. Keep it at this temperature throughout the cooking process.
  5. Next, add the red wine, thyme and minced garlic to the pot with the rice. Cook for 5 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, until most of the wine has been absorbed.
  6. Start ladling in the warmed beef stock, one ladle at a time, waiting until the rice gets slightly dry to add the next ladle of stock.
  7. In the meantime, heat 1 tablespoon of butter in a small sauté pan. Add the water, and sautee the carrots on medium heat until they’ve tenderized, stirring often, for about 20 minutes or so. This is where, if you have fresh pearl onions as opposed to frozen pearl onions, you would add them as well to give them a chance to cook through. Salt the vegetables liberally.
  8. Add the mushrooms after 20 minutes of cooking the carrots and onions, and cook for an additional 5 minutes, until all the vegetables are tender. Set aside the vegetables and juices to a separate plate.
  9. Heat a cast iron pan until searing hot. Add the vegetable oil to the pan. Just before the oil begins to smoke, add the filets and cook on each side for approximately 1 to 2 minutes, so that the filets achieve a dark crust on all sides. Make sure you turn your overhead vent on, it will be smoky!
  10. Finish the filets in the oven and cook until desired doneness – for medium rare, this will take about 7 to 8 minutes.
  11. Once all the beef stock has been incorporated into the risotto, start to test the rice to make sure it’s achieved al dente consistency. This entire process should take anywhere from 20 to 25 minutes.
  12. Once the rice is done, add the carrots, mushrooms, 1 / 2 bag frozen pearl onions (if using), all but 2 tablespoons of the Parmigiano Reggiano, stirring lightly until everything is heated through, about 10 minutes.
  13. Remove the filets from the oven and let sit on a plate covered in foil. Once the steaks have set for 5 to 10 minutes, slice thickly against the grain.
  14. Serve the dishes hot topped with the sliced filets, grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and a sprinkle of fresh minced parsley.

La Tur-rific Macaroni & Cheese

There’s a cheese called La Tur that you should know about. Full disclosure – it is one of those smelly and bloomy kinds.

The small, circular crottin is derived from sheep’s, cow’s and goat’s milk and has a semi-soft center, oozing outer rim that’s enclosed in a wrinkled rind.

At room temperature, you slice into it and the cheese comes pouring out of its mold. Like slightly thickened cream.

If this appeals to you, keep reading.

Luckily you can almost always find it at Whole Foods, and more often than not I have luck at specialty cheese shops or gourmet markets.

Because I want to give you a reason to go out and buy this cheese, I combined two of my favorite foods, one of which is ubiquitously loved, probably by you too. So you have no excuse. Let me just acknowledge out of the gate – saying macaroni and cheese is your favorite food doesn’t make you unique.

It’s like, no shit, we all do.

I just winged it with this dish, and it turned out great. How couldn’t it though? To amplify the funkier flavor I replaced cow’s milk for goat’s milk, and it took it to another level.

We should rethink macaroni and cheese entirely, because there is so much you can do with it– why don’t we try swapping out American or cheddar for the good stuff we like to eat on its own? Not to say American processed cheese product does not have its own home in my heart. Sometimes, only good old Velveeta will do.

Meltability and retaining moisture in the oven have something to do with why some cheeses are better than others, but try this dish with La Tur (or something you’re partial toward that’s a little out of left field), mix it with some melty cheese go-to’s, and you’ll regret not doing it earlier.

Carbs and cheese, people. Divinity in food form. Hallelujah.

I N G R E D I E N T S

This makes enough for several people, probably 4 to 6 – but again, how bad could leftovers be? Or just cut the recipe in half. Instead of reheating leftovers in the microwave, try reheating in a toaster oven. It’ll revive more of that crispy on the top / bubbly on the inside texture.

  • 1 lb dried short pasta of your choosing
  • 1  La Tur crotin, crumbled
  • 4 cups high-quality aged cheddar or another high-quality cheese, or a combination of cheeses, grated (I used 2 cups aged Cabot cheddar I had in my fridge and 2 cups good-quality Gruyere)
  • 1 quart goat’s milk
  • 1 / 4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons salt, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1 / 2 teaspoon pepper
  • 6 tablespoons butter (salted or unsalted), plus 2 tablespoons
  • 1 / 4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed and finely minced
  • 1 / 2 cup panko breadcrumbs

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Preheat the oven to 350*. Butter a 12 in. by 9 in. casserole dish, although a smaller casserole dish will work as well (i.e. a 9 in. circular casserole dish). You could even split it evenly amongst smaller gratin dishes for a fancier presentation, if you wanted.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, adding 2 to 3 tablespoons of salt to flavor the water.
  3. Melt the 6 tablespoons of butter and add the 1 /4 cup of flour in a separate heavy-bottomed large pot, stirring constantly with a whisk on medium heat until lightly browned to remove some of the raw flour taste.
  4. In the meantime, in a small pan, warm the goat’s milk on medium-high heat until just before simmering, when there are small bubbles on the sides of the pot. Do not boil.
  5. Cook the pasta until al dente or slightly before al dente if you prefer your pasta to have even more of a bite. That’s how I like it. It will cook more in the oven.
  6. Once the roux has been whisked for a few minutes, add the quart of the warmed goat’s milk, stirring constantly until no lumps of flour remain. If you’ve warmed the goat’s milk enough, the mixture should start to thicken relatively quickly. Keep stirring and turn the heat up to medium high if need be to speed up the thickening process. You’ll want to get to a consistency where the mixture lightly coats a spoon.
  7. Off the heat, add the grated cheeses, the nutmeg, the minced thyme, the 1 tablespoon of salt and 1 / 2 teaspoon of pepper.
  8. Add the cooked pasta to the cheese mixture. If you can time the pasta so that it goes straight from the cooking water into the cheese mixture, it will be that much better. Taste for seasonings once combined, making sure it has enough salt.
  9. Combine the 2 tablespoons of melted butter and 1 / 2 cup panko breadcrumbs. Evenly top the dish with the buttered panko crumbs.
  10. Place the casserole dish on a larger baking sheet, covered with foil to eliminate the need for clean-up. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes until the edges of the casserole are browned and the dish is bubbling hot.