Beef Bourguignon For The Soul

I can hardly believe a week has passed since we lost our sweet little boy. The week leading up to “Goodbye” seemed so long and torturous…while this week flew by…a rollercoaster of tears, numbness, and peace. While Ryan eased back into the hustle and bustle of work, frantically writing and pursuing looming deadlines, I took each day as it came. While my body slowly healed, I tackled a list of to-dos, a list of activities that would help ease my heart and my mind. From returning my maternity clothes to compiling a box of mementos to piecing together a book of FB messages, texts, and emails to picking up his ashes, I used every hour I had to find a permanent place in our home and hearts for Beau, find peace and understanding for myself, and find a sense of normalcy for our family.  During an evening conversation with Ryan, he suggested starting a new tradition…whether it be once a week or once a month, regularly doing an activity for Beau…an activity he would have enjoyed, so that he is forever present and in some small way, a part of Bella (and future children’s) lives.  I stood amazed (and tearful) as Ryan made his thoughtful suggestion…I couldn’t help but wonder, “Where did this guy come from?!  What an awesome Dad.”   As it turns out, though much more quietly than me, he too has spent the week searching for our new normal. 

In this week-long journey toward healing, I asked myself over and over again, “Robin, why did He choose you?” and “Robin, how are you going to make the most of this loss, this hurt, this lesson, this GIFT?” Ironically, messages and phone calls continued to come in encouraging me to write a book. At first I thought, “Really? Where would I find the time?!” But then, my wheels wouldn’t stop spinning. Before I knew it, I had a page full of bullet-points…a page full of details I would be honored to share with the world. So, logically, I scoured Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and the web for current titles…books already published on this painful process. Not surprisingly, I found THREE. There are countless books on miscarriage and infant loss but only three (that I could find) on pregnancies like ours. Pregnancies that “are not compatible with life” evidently are also pregnancies “that are not talked about”.   Perhaps it’s too painful?  Or somehow, too shameful.  But then maybe, just maybe, that is my role in all of this. Maybe I should write a book? What do you think?

As I alluded to above, the outpouring of support has been humbling. I realize now, that it isn’t until the darkest of days, that we fully realize the love and support that surrounds us. I will be the first to admit, it was just a few months ago that I spent a Saturday afternoon crying on the couch, missing my friends and family in MN and WI, feeling so alone in Iowa. And then, fast forward to January 12th and we are surrounded by more love, encouragement, and support than I could have ever dreamed. So many of those cheering us on and lifting us up were right here…right here in Iowa where I somehow had felt so alone. To all of those friends, I cannot thank you enough. We will never forget your thoughtfulness, compassion, or sincerity. One of these special friends, also dropped by with a delicious dinner. Not only were we so grateful to have dinner prepared for us but Ines made us a meal we’d never had…a version of Julia Child’s Beouf Bourguignon. Delicious! 

Whether you are looking for some gourmet comfort food or a meal to please the “Meat and Potatoes” lover in your household, you really need to give this recipe a try.  They say “Chicken soup is good for the soul”…well, I beg to differ.  They haven’t had Beouf Bourguignon!

Below I’ve included Julia Child’s recipe, with Ines’ modifications. Ines, one of the most beautiful and classy women know, is also one of the most practical and “no-fuss”, women I know. We are all fortunate to have had her master this recipe for us first! And the gorgeous photo below (c’mon, beouf bourguignon is not the “prettiest” of dishes) was taken by another blogger “Split Personality”. I didn’t have it in me to pull out my camera and attempt to shoot a photo that could compete with this one. 🙂

Boeuf Bourguignon

Recipe Courtesy of Julia Child (Simply Recipes)

Serves 6-8

• 6 oz bacon
• 2 to 3 Tbsp olive oil
• 4 lbs trimmed beef chuck, cut into 2-inch cubes, patted dry with paper towels
• Salt and freshly ground pepper
• 2 cups sliced onions (~ 2 medium onions)
• 1 cup sliced carrots
• 1 bottle of red wine (Ines recommends an $8-$10 bottle of Chianti…it makes a difference!)
• 2 cups beef stock or canned beef broth
• 1 cup chopped tomatoes, fresh or canned
• 1 medium herb bouquet (tie 8 parsley sprigs, 1 large bay leaf, 1 tsp dried thyme, 2 whole cloves or allspice berries, and 3 large cloves of smashed garlic together wrapped and tied in cheesecloth)
• Beurre manié: 3 Tbsp flour blended to a paste with 2 Tbsp butter (thin with 1/8 cup chicken stock or water)
• 24 pearl onions
• Chicken stock (use to cover onions ½ way)
• Butter (1 tsp)
• 1 1/2 pounds of button or cremini mushrooms, quartered
• 1 tsp sugar

1 Blanch the bacon to remove its smoky taste. Drop bacon slices into 2 quarts of cold water, bring to a boil, and simmer 6 to 8 minutes. Drain, rinse in cold water, and dry on paper towels.
2 In a large frying pan, sauté the blanched bacon to brown slightly in a little oil; set them aside and add later to simmer with the beef, using the rendered fat in browning. Brown the chunks of beef on all sides in the bacon fat and olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and put them into a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven or covered casserole pan. Cut the bacon into 1-inch pieces and add to the pan.
3 Remove all but a little fat from the frying pan, add the sliced vegetables and brown them, and add to the meat. Deglaze the pan with wine, pouring it into the casserole along with enough stock to almost cover the meat. Stir in the tomatoes and add the herb bouquet (and the bacon). Bring to a simmer, cover, and simmer slowly on the lowest heat possible, either on the stove or in a preheated 325°F oven, until the meat is tender, about 1 to 2 hours.
4 While the stew is cooking, prepare the onions. Blanch the onions in boiling water for 1 minute. Drain and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking. Slice the end tips off of the onions, peel the onions and score the root end with 1/4 inch cuts. Sauté onions in a single layer in a tablespoon or two of butter until lightly browned. Add chicken stock or water half way up the sides of the onions. Add a teaspoon of sugar, and season with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer slowly for 25 minutes or until tender. The onions should absorb most of the water. If there is water remaining after cooking, drain the excess. Set aside.
5 Prepare the mushrooms a few minutes before serving the stew. Sauté quartered mushrooms in a few tablespoons of butter and olive oil until browned and cooked through.
6 When the stew meat has cooked sufficiently, remove all solids from the sauce (except the beef) by draining through a colander set over a saucepan. Return the beef to the casserole. Press juices out of the residue into the cooking liquid, then remove any visible fat and boil down the liquid to 3 cups. Off heat, whisk in the beurre manié, then simmer for 2 minutes as the sauce thickens lightly. Correct seasoning and pour over the meat, folding in the onions and mushrooms. To serve, bring to a simmer, basting meat and vegetables with the sauce for several minutes until hot throughout.


Serve with rice, pasta, or potatoes.  Pair with a nice glass of red wine and enjoy!

Thank you, Ines, for preparing a delicious and soothing dinner.  You are so very thoughtful!

Indulge.  In Life.  In Love.  In Food.

3 thoughts on “Beef Bourguignon For The Soul

  1. You should write a book, in fact you should write lots of books, I think you should be an author full time!!! I could read your words all day, every day!! You are incredibly talented, and to share something so special, Beau would be so proud of his mama!!

  2. You should definitely write a book! You have an amazing gift with words, and an ability to relate so well with people. I think you are correct in that pregnancies like yours, or miscarriages in general, are a lot of times just not talked about. I am sure there any many couples out there that would relate to and benefit from hearing your story.

    Beef Bourguignon is a dish I have always wanted to make, but for some reason have been intimidated by it. I am going to plan on making it this week in honor of Beau!

  3. I have learned something about you this past week. I haven’t followed your blog and Nanette texted me to look at it. I am amazed by the gift of writting that you have! Go for it! Writing is good for the soul. And in your case Beau’s soul, Ryan’s soul and many, many others! I want to read the first print! Thanks for your gift with words. Your spirit is truly exhuberant!

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