More than any other year, this holiday season I feel a need for the company of old friends, gathered in my kitchen as they've always been. But this year these friends will take the form of favorite family dishes, ones I can count on to bring the comfort and good memories of meals past.

While 2020 has made so many other things more complicated, cooking the dishes we love remains a simple task. Simple, but necessary.

In the next few weeks, I will be indulging in dishes that warm me from the inside out, starting with Beef Bourguignon.

Beef Bourguignon is simply beef stew with a French twist, in the form of a healthy dose (an entire bottle) of red wine. While the stew isn't complicated, it is sophisticated, with the addition of pearl onions and cremini mushrooms, both cooked separately and added to the stew toward the end so they maintain their shape and flavor.

It's a treat that, combined with creamy mashed potatoes or buttered noodles, never fails to make whoever is at the dinner table happy.

Another dish that's sure to please is Pressed Spiced Chicken with Hot Honey Glaze. This one delivers in a totally different sense from the earthy, hearty beef stew.

It's filled with warm spices that will permeate your home with the most intoxicating aroma.

A whole chicken is butterflied (it's easy to do yourself, but feel free to ask your butcher to do it) and rubbed with coriander, paprika, cumin and cinnamon. It's then cooked in a hot skillet, pressed down by weights, so every possible bit of skin makes contact with the pan, resulting in a delightful amount of crispiness.

The skillet moves into the oven to finish cooking, and is brushed with a honey-chile glaze, which adds an irresistible sweet heat. I often serve it with couscous or rice and perhaps some roasted winter squash.

These dishes, along with other family favorites, will help make these holidays feel familiar and taste delicious, even if the dinner table has fewer seats around it.

Beef Bourguignon

Serves 6.

Note: Hearty and deeply flavorful, this classic French red wine and beef stew goes well with mashed potatoes, egg noodles or even spaetzle. Adapted from Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." From Meredith Deeds.

• 3 lb. chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 2-in. cubes

• 3/4 tsp. kosher salt

• 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

• 6 slices thick cut bacon, chopped

• 1 medium onion, finely chopped

• 2 tbsp. flour

• 1 tbsp. tomato paste

• 2 garlic cloves, minced

• 2 sprigs fresh thyme

• 1 bay leaf

• 1 (750 ml) bottle dry red wine

• 2 medium carrots, cut into 2-in. pieces

• 2 tbsp. butter, divided

• 8 oz. frozen pearl onions, thawed

• 8 oz. cremini mushrooms, cleaned and quartered

• Chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pat the beef dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.

In a 5-quart Dutch oven, cook bacon over medium heat until browned and crispy. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon and increase the heat to medium-high.

In 2 batches, brown the beef on all sides. Transfer each batch of beef to a large plate as it's browned. Drain all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the Dutch oven.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add the tomato paste, garlic, thyme and bay leaf and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Stir in the wine. Return the beef and half of the bacon to the Dutch oven and bring to a simmer.

Cover Dutch oven and set in lower third of oven to cook for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Turn beef over and add the carrots. The stew should be saucy, so add a little water if necessary. Continue to cook, covered, in the oven for 30 minutes.

Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring, for about 4 to 5 minutes, until browned. Add the browned onions to the Dutch oven and continue to cook, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes or until the beef and vegetables are tender. Remove and discard thyme sprigs and bay leaf.

Meanwhile, wipe out skillet and add remaining 1 tablespoon butter over high heat. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 to 5 minutes, until browned. Stir the mushrooms into the stew. Garnish with remaining cooked bacon and parsley and serve with mashed potatoes or noodles, as desired.

Pressed Spiced Chicken With Hot Honey Glaze

Serves 6.

Note: If you're looking for a crisp-skinned chicken with loads of flavor, this technique is for you. It starts on the stove, weighs down the meat for maximum skin contact, and finishes in a hot oven. Paprika, cumin, coriander and cinnamon give the chicken an intoxicating aroma and a dark, lacquered brown appearance. Honey, infused with the heat of a red chile, is brushed on toward the end of roasting to give it another flavor boost and a touch of sweetness. From Meredith Deeds.

• 3 to 4 lb. whole chicken (fryer)

• 2 tsp. paprika

• 1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin

• 1 1/2 tsp. ground coriander

• 1 1/2 tsp. salt

• 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

• 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

• 2 tbsp. olive oil

• 3 tbsp. honey

• 1 tbsp. lemon juice

• 1 hot red chile, thinly sliced

• Lemon wedges


Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Rinse the chicken in cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Place breast-side-down on a large cutting board. Using sharp kitchen shears, remove the backbone by cutting along either side of it. Turn chicken over and lay out flat. Press firmly on breast to flatten the chicken. Tuck wing tips behind back.

In a small bowl, combine paprika, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, cinnamon and olive oil. Stir together to form a paste. Rub the paste over the both sides of the chicken.

In a small, microwaveable bowl, combine the honey, lemon juice and chile. Heat in the microwave on high for 30 seconds. Let stand while the chicken begins cooking.

Wrap 2 bricks in a couple of layers of foil. (If you don't have bricks, use another heavy pan weighed down.) Set a large cast-iron or other heavy ovenproof pan over medium-high heat. When hot, put the chicken, breast side down, in the pan and immediately put the bricks or heavy pan on top of the chicken. Turn the heat to medium and cook (without moving the chicken) until the skin is browned (be careful not to burn the spices), about 8 to 12 minutes. Remove the bricks (or heavy pan), turn the chicken over, and put the pan in the hot oven. Roast the chicken for 15 minutes.

Brush the chicken with the honey mixture and continue to roast for another 5 minutes. Brush the chicken with more honey mixture, making sure to spoon some of the chile slices on top of the chicken, and roast for another 5 to 10 minutes or until a thermometer registers at least 165 degrees. Let stand 10 minutes before carving. Serve with lemon wedges on the side.

Meredith Deeds is a cookbook author and food writer from Edina. Reach her at Follow her on Instagram ­at @meredithdeeds.