A French Dinner

Sunrise #2

The sun rose crimson this morning. I repeatedly returned to the deck to wonder at it. People from Arizona to Iowa have been commenting on their crimson sun. Experts say it’s the result of 340 square miles of wildfires in the mountains of New Mexico and Arizona. The color troubles me. It feels eerie. Our world is becoming strange.

Something that’s not strange but wholly wonderful is Chef Dale McClure’s greatest strength: combining tastes and textures in a meal. Over and over we hear our testers and guests say, “I can’t believe how well the dishes complement each other.”

Therefore, we are going to give you a peek into Dale’s complete menu for the French Dinner which will appear in our future cookbook. I think this is the meal I like best of all the ones Dale and I have prepared together over the last three years.


Beet and Walnut Salad

Beef Burgundy

Potatoes au Gratin

White Bean Ragout

Individual Chocolate Creams

Below is Recipe #1: Beef Burgundy; Recipe #2: Potatoes au GratinRecipe ; #3: White bean Ragout (in blog archives—A French Provincial Staple, April 2011)

Dale’s favorite French cuisine is the Provincial cuisine. Many dishes require hours of slow cooking. They evolved because the farm wife didn’t have time to stay at the stove and cook. So she created dishes she could slide into the oven or simmer on the stove after breakfast, check on once or twice during the morning and present them for dinner at noon.

Beef Burgundy

You will need:

Beef roast (round, rump or chuck)      1/3 cup flour

1/2 Onion                                                1 1/2 cup Water

2 slices Bacon                                          1/2 cup Burgundy

5 mushrooms                            2 teaspoons Beef Crystals

1 teaspoon Salt                        1/4 teaspoon Allspice


1. Cut fat from roast; bone and cut into bite-sized pieces.

2. Chop onion finely.

3. Chop the bacon.

4. Slice the mushrooms


1. Mix flour and water into a slurry.

2. Put bacon in skillet and fry.

3. Place chopped onions in grease. Cook 1 minute.

4. Take onions out.

5. Add canola oil and brown meat some.

6. Pour everything back in pan with meat.

7. Pour slurry over.

8. Add the rest of the ingredients to meat mixture. Boil to simmer. Simmer four hours in good heavy saucepan. Scrape often.

Beef Burgundy

{Tip: One of my favorite cooking tools is a small 1 5/8 in. wide spatula I ordered from Pampered Chef. It is perfect for scooping up smaller portions of beef burgundy, flipping a single fried egg, or lifting out one piece of brownie.}

Potatoes Au Gratin

A gratin is any vegetable baked in a creamy sauce. It is usually topped with cheese or bread crumbs.

You will need:

2 to 4 Russet Potatoes             Whole Milk (appox. 1 cup)

Salt                                             *Cream (approximately 1 cup)

Garlic Powder                          1 cup or more Gruyere cheese

Butter                                         White Pepper


1. Peel and slice Russet potatoes

2. Grate Gruyere cheese.

3. Coat the inside of a gratin dish with butter. A gratin dish is an oven-proof oval dish that is two to three inches deep. They can be made of metal, porcelain or earthenware. If you don’t have a gratin dish, use any casserole dish, souffle dish or ovenproof skillet.


1. Place all ingredients except cheese in a mixing bowl and stir until the potatoes are evenly coated. It’s better not to substitute garlic salt for the garlic powder because using garlic salt will not give you control over the amount of salt you want.

2. Layer the potatoes in the gratin dish.

3. Cover the potatoes with a one to one mixture of milk and cream.

4. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about two hours or until the potatoes are soft and the milk and cream have been reduced to a creamy sauce.

5. After the first hour and a half, cover the top with grated Gruhyere.

6. Bake until browned.

*Do not use table cream, half and half or condensed milk in this recipe. Use “heavy cream” usually labeled “whipping cream.”

French Dinner with Home Grown Spinach Salad

Our Vegetable Garden

We are loving picking fresh spinach each day and creating a spinach salad for lunch (with bacon, tomatoes and raisins.

Food for Thought:

Beef Burgundy requires four hours to cook. It’s vital you wait a full four hours to blend the taste and tender the beef.

I love the line by early 20th century novelist Elizabeth Goudge: “She knew how to wait.”

Missionary to India, Donald MacGavran, was a good example of someone who knew how to wait. He was patient and learned how to live in the present, doing what he could.

Every morning he rose at dawn, ate breakfast, repaired his bicycle and began his daily rounds. He pedaled several miles to the nearest village, wound his way through the pitiful market and parked his bicycle in front of a dirty hut. Although they could offer him no refreshment, the young mother and father were grateful he had come. They told him about their current landlord issues and discussed the famine. He played with the baby and tried to encourage them. Then he pedaled to another hut. He visited more villages and hurried home before dark to avoid robbers.

He had been a missionary for 30 years with few results. His dream was to see masses of people come to Christ. When he was mission secretary, his superiors chafed at his extreme focus on evangelism. They demoted him to backwoods evangelist.

MacGavran could have been discouraged. Instead he persevered moment by moment with the work he could do. Those years of waiting gave birth to ideas that became his first book on church growth. Many more years of resistance to his call for evangelism followed. But eventually his ideas took hold, and today few have influenced world evangelism as much as Donald MacGavran.

God longs for us to trust Him when we can’t see the end of the line.

Waiting for our beef burgundy to cook gives us a chance to remember that “God makes everything beautiful in His time.”

Surprised by Joy

This entry was posted in Desserts, Entreés, Inspiration, Presentation, Recipes, Salads, Side Dishes, Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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