Although I enjoy almost all types of cuisine I have to admit that my Euro-centric genes make me rather partial to French cooking. In this thread I'll share some simple bistro faves of mine that are easy to master, taste great and, with a little wine, usually induce females to moisten in the nether regions and start to shed clothing.
The thing to remember about bistro cooking is that it is basically peasant food cooked in a way that transforms otherwise tough cuts of meat into something tender and delicious. Comfort food that stands the test of time and never fails to impress.
First up: Boef Bourguignon (Beef Burgundy)
This is basically a beef stew. I use Anthony Bourdain's recipe from his Les Halles restaurant in New York. It's a great dish for fall and winter and tastes even better the next day.
2lbs beef roast (shoulder or chuck) cut into 2 in. pieces
1 onion thinly sliced
2 tbsp flour
1 cup red wine
6 carrots cut in 1 inch pieces
1 bouquet garni *see note below
Fresh chopped parsley
In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot heat some olive oil on med. high. Brown the beef in batches on all sides and remove to a plate. Add the onions and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the onions and cook, stirring about 5 more minutes. Add the wine, bring to a boil and cook until it has almost entirely evaporated. Now add the beef, carrots and bouquet garni. Add water so that the beef and carrots are covered by 1/3. That is the volume in the pot should be 2/3 solids, 1/3 liquid. I will add a few spoonfuls of demi glace here. Demi glace is reduced stock that you can buy pre-made at most grocery stores. Season with salt and pepper, bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally to keep the beef from scorching on the bottom.
Remove the bouquet garni, sprinkle with parsley and serve. I usually serve this in a bowl over noodles with a side salad and some French bread.
*a bouquet garni is basically an herb seasoning packet used to flavor soups, stews and sauces. I take some cheese cloth (found in the baking section of the grocery store), cut about a 6in x 6in square and place in the center: 2 sprigs parsley, 2 sprigs thyme, 1 bay leaf, 1 smashed garlic clove, 1 clove, and a couple of pepper corns. Tie the corners of the cloth to make a packet.