Samhain Supper For Two
So what's on our Samhain Supper menu? It's a perennial favourite. Julia Child's Beef Bourguignon, warm,crusty bread, and a full, deep, dark bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon.
Julia's recipe isn't the most hip or the most convenient to make, but it's a recipe that pretty much perfect in every way. I've tinkered with it over the years, but basically I come right back to the original.
There's something particularity fitting about cooking the stew the same way Julia did, especially at Samhain. It's like I'm paying homage and remembering a cookery ancestor.
It's likely I'll make the bread from scratch. I have a sourdough starter, named Pablito. Pablito came from a dear friend and mentor of ours. His sourdough starter is called Pablo. Making this bread connects us to the microbes in our environment and to our friend's house, where we've sat an enjoyed many magickal meals.
And the Cabernet is a gift from this land we call home. The wine is sumptuous and velvety and black as ink. Drinking the wine together connects us to all the times we've stared into each other's eyes, over a candlelit table, and just made googly eyes at each other. A secondary connection is to the high priestess and high priest of our coven, fast friends, beloved, magickal co-conspirators, and fellow oenophiles. Drinking wine reminds us of many a "cakes and ale" with our coven, and a wonderful celebration in the Napa Valley.
The whole meal connects us to the living and the dead and to this very moment that we're sharing, right now.
Samhain Supper For Two Ingredients
Gather and prepare your ingredients prior to cooking. Chop the bacon, chop the beef, chop the veggies, smash the garlic… Preparing your ‘mise en place’ will help things go smoothly once you’ve fired up the stove.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Arrange the beef chunks in a single layer on a tray lined with paper towels. Use additional paper towels to thoroughly pat the beef dry.
In a large dutch oven pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook for several minutes, until the bacon is browned and has released most of its fat. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon, leaving the fat in the pan.
Over medium/medium-high heat, brown the beef in the bacon fat for a minute or two on each side. Do not overcrowd the pan. The beef should quickly develop a nice caramelized brown on the surface. Turn the beef to brown on all sides, then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Repeat until all of the beef has been browned.
Once all of the beef has been browned, add the carrots and onions to the pan. Cook for a few minutes until they develop a golden brown color. Then, carefully pour out the excess bacon fat, leaving the veggies in the pan.
Add the beef and bacon back into the pan. Toss with salt and pepper. Then, sprinkle the flour over the mixture and toss again. Place the pan, uncovered, on the middle rack of the preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the mixture, then cook for 4 more minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven and reduce the heat to 325 degrees.
Add the wine*, beef stock, tomato paste, garlic, and thyme. Add just enough beef stock to barely cover the beef.
Bring to a simmer on top of the stove. Then, cover the pan, and place it in the oven. Cook, covered, for about 3 hours. Adjust the temperature slightly, if necessary, so that the liquid maintains a gentle simmer throughout the cooking time.
While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms.
For the onions:
Heat the butter and oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for about 10 minutes, occasionally shaking the pan to allow the onions to roll around in the pan and brown on all sides. Then, add the beef stock. Bring to a simmer, then lower the heat. Cover and simmer slowly for about 15-20 minutes. Check the pan towards the end of the cooking time. Most of the liquid should have evaporated and formed a brown glaze around the onions. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
For the mushrooms:
Heat the butter in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
Season with salt and pepper, then set aside.
Once the beef has finished cooking, carefully pour the mixture through a sieve or strainer. Allow the sauce to collect in a large measuring cup (the 4-cup kind) or glass bowl. Return the beef and bacon to the dutch oven pan. Discard the carrot and onion pieces.
Arrange the brown-braised onions and sauteed mushrooms over the beef.
Allow the sauce to rest for a few minutes. The excess fat will rise to the surface as it rests. Use a spoon to collect and discard the excess fat. Repeat until much of the excess fat has been discarded.
You should have about 2 – 2 1/2 cups of sauce. If you have much more than this, pour the sauce into a small saucepan and simmer uncovered until it’s reduced a bit. It should be quite flavorful and thick enough to lightly coat the back of a spoon. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, as desired. Pour the sauce over the beef, mushrooms, and onions.
Serve over boiled potatoes.
Full Transparency, rather than retyping this recipe from start to finish, I "borrowed" this recipe from The Gourmand Mom.
There’s a good chance you’ll be celebrating Samhain Season this month. Maybe you gather with your coven in some secret place, go to a ritual, or plonk down on your couch wearing your black cat slippers and stripey witch socks, it’s all good. Here’s a little magick potion you might want to try. I call it “Samhain Sippers” because “Samhain Slammers” might give you the wrong impression. But hey, you know you, so whether your a sipper or a slammer, enjoy!
Samhain Sippers SpellSamhain is a transition time. There’s a liminal quality about this season. Leaves are changing colours, once verdant fields are falling blissfully fallow, night time comes a little earlier. It’s well known that Samhain is a time when the veil thins and our ancestors are, perhaps, a little more accessible than usual. And yet for all the apparent falling away and endings, it’s a time of year that ushers in dinner parties and magickal gatherings and twinkle lights and decorations.
There is some magick involved in this recipe, beyond the alchemy of blending ingredients together. The recipe calls for blackberries and rum (among other things). Blackberries are an element of the late summer. Sweet and full. Rum is sweet too and works s a reminder that life is sweet and precious. Rum is a traditional offering to guardians of gateways in various occult traditions. In my case, rum was my dad’s favourite tipple, so there’s a connection to my ancestors there too.
As you drink, think of what is sweet in your life right now. Ponder which door are opening for you this Samhain tide and which might be closing, forever. Celebrate your ancestors, be they ancestors of blood or magickal lineage, or those that have passed that influenced your life.
Samhain Sippers RecipeThis recipe takes 10 minutes to cook (if you make the simple syrup yourself) and 5 minutes more to whip together. I’m including two versions: one for making yourself a cocktail and a cauldron sized for your Samhain get together.
To Make Blackberry Simple Syrup
What you need to make the cocktails
Let’s Get To Making This Thing Already!
Making simple syrup:
In your favourite saucepan, add the sugar, blackberries, lime wedges, juice, and water over medium heat. Simmer for about 10 minutes until the sugar is fully dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat and mash up the blackberries. You can use the back of a spoon to do this.
Pour the blackberry syrup through a mesh strainer into a bowl. You can use that spoon again to help push the mixture through the sieve.
If your not making the cocktail right away, you can store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
To make two cocktails
Add 6 ounces of simple syrup, 3 ounces of the rum and a good squeeze of a lime wedge into to a cocktail shaker with ice; shake vigorously. If you don’t have a cocktail shaker use your travel mug or something else with a lid. Strain into an ice filled glass. Fill up each glass with soda. Top with a lime wedge.
To make 8 cocktails
Mix up 2 cups rum, 1/2 cup fresh lime juice, 1 and 1/2 cups simple syrup, and 2 cups soda. Pour all of this into your favourite pitcher, punch bowl, or cauldron. Add some fresh blackberries and lime wedges.
Happy Samhain Sipping!My recipe is based on something I saw a bunch of years ago and have played with. Here’s the original recipe, which is a little more summery.