Any fans of The Bachelor out there? It's okay, this is a safe space to admit such a guilty pleasure. I am a recent convert to the show, having been intiated by a group of friends who get together to watch it each week. We take turns hosting, and we have a potluck with a different theme each time. We try to make the themes relate to the show in some way (we've had a pink potluck with all pink food, as well as a Texas night in honor of Bachelor Sean), but sometimes we just choose something we'd all like to eat. When my turn came around recently, I pondered the theme possibilities until I settled on one near and dear to my heart: booze. (Judging by some of the antics on the show, some of the bachelorettes also share an affection for the sauce.) The rules: whatever food you brought had to incorporate booze in some way, whether it was beer, wine, or liquor. We ended up having an amazing spread: jalapeno beer cheese bread, cheese fondue with wine, tequila lime chicken, beer mac n' cheese, champagne cupcakes, and apple rum cake. My friend Christine also made an incredible cocktail, a spicy watermelon mojito, served in a hollowed-out watermelon with a spigot attached.
For my offering to the party, I decided to make beef bourguignon, a dish I love but have only made once before. On my previous foray, I used Julia Child's recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. It was fantastic, but it took forever--dinner was served after 10pm that night. This time around, I set out to find a recipe that would be a bit simpler but still delicious. I settled on this recipe from Barefoot Contessa. Don't get me wrong--this is still a commitment, but one that I was able to pull off on a weeknight by doing all the prep and half of the cooking the night before.
The most exciting part of the preparation comes about halfway through, when the recipe instructs you to add cognac (I used brandy) to the pan and light the whole thing on fire.
Those flames are too hard to see . . . let's try turning out the lights!
The brandy burned for a surprisingly long time, but thankfully, the flames remained where they belonged--in the pot.
The beef bourguignon turned out great. I modified the recipe slightly by using only three-quarters of a bottle of pinot noir (which leaves a glass for the cook!) and adding more carrots than called for (about a pound and a quarter). I made it up through the flambe moment the night before, then refrigerated it overnight and did the the final braise in the oven on the day of the party. Bon appetit!