While in college, I worked at a local restaurant. It had the best pizza and pastas, soups, salads and iced tea in the world. The main chef invited several other chefs and servers over for dinner one Sunday night. It was such a memorable meal, including the courses: pate on crostini, a delicate bouillabaisse and a crisp salad followed by boeuf bourguignon, and a spectacular flourless chocolate cake topped with powdered sugar.
He obliged in giving tips to us all for his pate, salad dressing and boeuf bourguignon. The following is my version. The bonus is that the ingredients are all relatively inexpensive while the dish is easy to make. Sure, pizza is wonderful, but so is this sophisticated meal with the perfect glass of wine.
Chicken Liver Pate
This dish makes for a tasty, standout appetizer.
8 ounces chicken livers, cleaned of fat and rinsed
2 teaspoons flour
3 tablespoon unsalted butter
Handful of fresh sage leaves
3 shallots, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tablespoons brandy
½ granny smith apple, peeled and sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
• Pat chicken livers dry with paper towels. Dust with flour.
• Melt butter in a medium skillet and quick fry the sage leaves. Remove leaves with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
• Add shallots and garlic to butter mixture and saute until soft but not browned. Add apple and cook them until they are tender.
• Add chicken livers and saute until medium rare. Flame with brandy (or just add brandy and cook alcohol off if your stove is not gas).
• Transfer liver mixture into food processor work bowl and puree until smooth.
• Season with salt and pepper and turn pate into serving containers. Cover each container with a thin layer of melted butter and cover with plastic wrap. Chill in refrigerator until ready to serve (at least an hour, but this can be made the night before serving).
• To serve, spread pate on toasted baguette slices and top with a leaf of fried sage.
Boeuf Bourguignon (Serves 6)
6 bacon slices, chopped and blanched
3 pounds stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 carrot, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoon flour
3 cups full-bodied young red wine (merlot or red bordeaux are nice choices)
2-3 cups beef stock
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 bay leaf, crumbled
18 pearl onions, browned in butter
1 pound quartered mushrooms, sauteed in butter
Parsley to garnish
• Saute bacon in olive oil until lightly browned. Remove bacon and reserve in medium bowl.
• Heat remaining bacon fat in pot until very hot. Dry beef pieces with paper towel and brown in hot fat a few pieces at a time. Remove beef from pan and add it to bacon bowl.
• Saute chopped carrots and onion until tender and set aside.
• Return beef and bacon to pot and dust with flour. Put pot in 475-degree oven for 4 minutes. Stir beef and roast for 4 minutes more. Remove beef from oven and turn oven down to 325 degrees.
• As temperature of oven lowers, place pot on top of stove. Stir in wine and enough stock to cover beef. Add tomato paste, garlic and herbs. Bring pot to a simmer.
• Cover and return to oven. Cook for 2 ½ to 3 hours.
• Once cooked, add mushrooms and onions and simmer on stove until warmed through.
• Serve with boiled potatoes, rice or noodles. Garnish with parsley.This is worth the time and preparation, and is surprisingly easy. Once combined, it gently cooks itself. The entire house smells wonderful and it tastes as amazing. Beef sold for stew is generally chuck or round—"tough" cuts that will become tender with slowly simmering in liquid. Avoid beef top round because it is too lean to braise.
This is a nice vinaigrette which can easily be adjusted with the vinegar and herbs that you have on hand. Always remember, for vinaigrette, 3 to 1 oil to vinegar. Dijon is optional and a tasty addition. Serve on cold, mixed greens.
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
6 tablespoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon
Fresh ground pepper to taste
• In a medium bowl, whisk vinegar and mustard until smooth. While whisking, slowly drizzle in oil to form an emulsion.
• Add tarragon and correct seasoning with salt and pepper