A Southern Rhône Adaptation of Beef Bourguignon

While classic Beef Bourguignon is made with red Burgundy, our version is quite a bit bolder and more intense. A friend of ours who dines somewhat frequently at our home calls this dish his “last meal wish on death row.” Dramatic imagery aside, it really is that good and it’s perfect for a cool autumn evening.

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Cape Cod Cottage Pie (aka, Sweet Potato Invades A British Classic)

When we arrived home this afternoon we were greeted with an unusual flurry of sight and sound. There had to be over 100 blackbirds crammed on the birdfeeders, the fountain, and the lawn. We’ve never seen so many at once. Apparently, ours has become a favorite hot spot on the migration trail.

The wisp of coolness in the air combined with the startling display of autumn migration inspired us to make a riff on a cottage pie. You see, every spring when we visit Kevin’s parents my mother-in-law cooks us the British classic — either a shepherd’s pie (lamb) or a cottage pie (beef). I always look forward to the bubbling hot goodness on the plate, served along with crunchy pickled red cabbage and the ubiquitous side of peas which always reminds us we’re in England.
Sweet Potato Invades a British Classic

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Thomas Keller in the Kitchen and Rancho Gordo Mania

If there is one smoking hot chef in America it has to be Thomas Keller. His restaurants include the esteemed French Laundry (Napa Valley) and Per Se (New York City). Keller is the only American chef to have been awarded simultaneous three star Michelin ratings for two different restaurants.

So how is it we have a Thomas Keller recipe for something as commonplace as pork and beans?

Rancho Gordo borlotti beans

Rancho Gordo Borlotti Beans

Surely this is not on the menu at one of his restaurants! This recipe is haute cuisine disguised as serious comfort food. And while it does have a lot of steps, none of them are complicated. Keller deploys an edible crescendo, layering flavors on top of flavors, building up intensity gradually until all of a sudden the dish emerges as a delicious gastronomic symphony.

These beans are remarkably versatile. You can serve them with braised pork shoulder, or make an intensely delicious huevos rancheros in the morning (crisped flour tortilla, borlotti beans, fried egg, salsa, and guacamole). The possibilities are almost endless.

Thomas Keller Inspired Braised Pork Shoulder with Heirloom Borlotti Beans

Pork and Beans

Pork and Beans

First things first. There is only one producer of beans we will ever use again, and that is Rancho Gordo. They are Thomas Keller’s bean of choice, and now ours. A little investigation reveals how fresh the Rancho Gordon beans are compared to those found in supermarkets or even health food stores. Most of those have been sitting around for years after harvest. Rancho Gordo guarantees their beans are fresh so they cook perfectly, have remarkable texture, and are easily digestible.

Slow, even cooking is the secret to beautiful beans. Thomas Keller prefers to use a slow cooker, but after reading the Rancho Gordo cookbook, we opted for the Parsons Method which uses a stovetop followed by the oven.

Heirloom Borlotti Beans


  • 1 lb Rancho Gordo borlotti beans
  • 2 tb olive oil
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1/2 leek, diced
  • 1/2 carrot, diced
  • 6 cups homemade chicken stock
  • 3 fresh thyme sprigs, stem removed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 strips applewood smoked bacon
  • Sea salt and freshly crushed black pepper
  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley to garnish


  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Carefully wash the beans to remove any sediment or debris. Place them in a bowl and cover with about 1 inch of cold water. Soak for 2-6 hours.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed, oven-proof pot. Once hot, add the onions and sauté until translucent (3 minutes or so). Add the garlic and sauté 30 seconds. Add the leek and carrot and sauté for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the drained beans, chicken stock, thyme, bay leaf and bacon. Bring to a boil and then cover tightly and place in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven to bake until the beans are tender (roughly 60-90 minutes). After 45 minutes or so season with sea salt and pepper. When it’s finished cooking remove and discard the bacon.
  5. Cool and store the beans in their liquid.
  6. When ready to serve drain the beans into a skillet, adding enough liquid to moisten them and heat until simmering. Add 6 tbsp butter and 2 tsp apple cider vinegar to bind the sauce. Adjust salt and pepper seasoning to your taste. Simmer for 20 minutes or until the liquid is nice and thick. Garnish with parsley.

Note: if you want to halve the portion of beans to use them for different dishes, then use only 3 tbsp of butter and 1 tsp of vinegar to bind the sauce for half the beans.

Braised Pork Shoulder


  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 lb boneless pork shoulder
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 carrots, diced large
  • 1 onion, diced large
  • 1 leek, white part only, diced large
  • 6 cups homemade chicken stock
  • 2 fresh rosemary sprigs, stems removed
  • 6 thyme sprigs, stems removed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Sprinkle salt and pepper all over the pork shoulder.
  3. Place a large cast-iron pot onto the stove over high heat. Add the olive oil and when it’s hot lower the pork shoulder into the pot. Sear on all sides including the ends. Remove the meat when fully seared and set aside on a plate.
  4. Add the carrots, onion, and leek and sauté for one minute. Lay the pork on the vegetables fatty side up along with the juices accumulated on the plate. Add the chicken stock until it comes up halfway the side of pork. Add the rosemary, thyme, bay leaf, and garlic. Bring to a simmer.
  5. Cover the pot, leaving the lid slightly ajar (or use a parchment paper lid), and place into a 250 degree Fahrenheit oven. Allow the pork to cook for 3.5 to 4 hours, or until the meat is tender enough to pull apart with two forks. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  6. Meanwhile, strain the braising liquid with a fine-meshed strainer and then return the pork to the braising liquid in the pot. Refrigerate overnight. This step is important because the pork will absorb some of the liquid as it rests overnight.
  7. Once ready to use, shred the meat into bite-sized pieces and re-heat in some of the braising liquid.

* Recipe adapted from an article appearing in Men’s Journal.

Our Very First Smear of the Season

Cauliflower puree makes a lovely and unassuming, yet surprisingly delicious base for a trendy smear on a plate. An easy and quick dish if ever there was one, cauliflower puree is capable of producing wonderful, earthy flavors underneath a variety of foods like pan-seared scallops, butter poached lobster, or braised beef cheeks.

A dollop and a smear, that’s all it takes, like one sees in virtually every cooking television program when plating.

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Bucatini with Lobster and Scallops

This pasta dish is fashioned after one of our favorites at Mac’s Shack in Wellfleet. We never did ask for their recipe, but instead opted to devise our own. We think this one comes pretty close!

Scallops and Bucatini

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The Ultimate Tempura Fish Tacos

In between the rainstorms it became rather hot and humid today. After struggling with the idea of what to have for dinner we decided upon something to celebrate the end of summer with bright flavors which requires little cooking. We easily agreed upon tempura fish tacos.

Fish Taco

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