Jennifer Garner’s Favorite Ina Garten Recipe Has Been Her Go-To Dinner Party Meal Since ‘Alias’

Jennifer Garner adores Ina Garten, and vice versa. The actress has been following Garten’s recipes since her Alias days, and she knows them so well, she has a favorite Garten recipe for different categories of foods.

Garner has one recipe, in particular, that’s her all-time favorite. She first made it for a dinner party with Alias co-star Victor Garber in the early 2000s, and she’s made it for dinner parties with her famous friends ever since. And she says it’s a surefire hit, no matter what kind of diet her friends are on.

Jennifer Garner (L) and Ina Garten (R) | John Shearer/Getty Images/Amanda Edwards/WireImage
Jennifer Garner (L) and Ina Garten (R) | John Shearer/Getty Images/Amanda Edwards/WireImage

Jennifer Garner makes ‘Barefoot Contessa’-inspired cooking videos

If you want to see evidence of Garner’s deep love of Garten, look no further than her Instagram. The 48-year-old star has been making cooking videos inspired by her favorite chef since 2017, and Garten is all for them. The series is called her “Pretend Cooking Show,” and the first video showed Garner making Garten’s honey white bread.

“I love her videos so much,” Garten told People. “She is adorable and smart and not at all performing—that’s just who she is. I just think she’s really special.”

The two really do have a lovely friendship. In February 2018, Garner gushed over Garten on her 70th birthday.

“Three years ago @inagarten cooked for me on my birthday,” she wrote on Instagram. “Today is her 70th birthday and if I was able to cook for her, it would only be because she taught me (and the rest of America) how. Thank you and happy birthday, Ina. Xx.”

In what was surely a wildly fun day for both of them, Garner guest-starred on an episode of Barefoot Contessa in 2019, during which they made grilled swordfish with a tomato-caper sauce. But that’s not Garner’s favorite Garten dish of all time.

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Jennifer Garner’s favorite Ina Garten recipe is from ‘Barefoot Contessa in Paris’

In a piece written for Bon Appetit, Garner was asked to share her go-to Barefoot Contessa recipe, which she had a hard time answering, but she finally divulged her answer. And the first time she made it was for a dinner party with her Alias co-star Victor Garber.

“My favorite Ina recipe is Ina’s beef bourguignon. (Called by its traditional French name boeuf bourguignon in the book.)” she wrote. “The first time I made it was ages ago—we were shooting Alias in the early 2000s, and my co-star Michael Vartan had hunted down a signed copy of Barefoot in Paris for me. I made dinner for Victor Garber—who played my dad on the show—and his partner, Rainer.”

“We were mid-season and had just finished a long week,” she continued. “And I somehow made this gorgeous meal on a Saturday night. I remember being in my little house listening to music and drinking a glass of gorgeous red wine. (Always cook with a wine you’d like to have at the table, right, Ina?) The house smelled like winter when Victor and Rainer arrived, and the meal was done. I didn’t have to get up to check anything or stir or sauté—everything had cooked in the oven, and we just sat and ate and talked and laughed.”

Ina Garten
Ina Garten | Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC Newswire/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

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Ina Garten’s beef bourguignon cooks faster than the traditional French cuisine

Just as everything Garten does, she made the extravagant French dish much easier for people to make at home. And her recipe cuts the cooking time in half.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil
  • 8 ounces good bacon, diced
  • 2½ pounds beef chuck cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound carrots, sliced diagonally into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 yellow onions, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic (2 cloves)
  • ½ cup Cognac or good brandy
  • 1 (750-ml) bottle good dry red wine, such as Burgundy
  • 2 to 2½ cups canned beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 pound frozen small whole onions
  • 1 pound mushrooms, stems discarded, caps thickly sliced
  • Country bread, toasted or grilled
  • 1 garlic clove, cut in half
  • ½ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (optional)

First, preheat your oven to 250 degrees. And then, in a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil. Once heated, add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes. Stir occasionally until the back is a bit browned. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon and place on a large plate.

Next, dry up your beef cubes with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Sear the cubes in hot oil for 3 to 5 minutes. Be sure to sear them in batches, so the meat is in single layers in the pot. Turn them while searing until they’re brown on all sides. Add the cubes to the plate with the bacon and set aside.

In the same pan you cooked the meat in, toss the onions, carrots, 1 tablespoon of salt, and 2 teaspoons of pepper in the fat and cook over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes. Stir occasionally until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic, and then cook for 1 more minute. Then carefully add your Cognac, step back from the stove, and ignite with a match to burn off the alcohol. Then add your bacon and beef back in.

Next, we’re adding more alcohol. Add the wine and your beef broth so the meat is almost covered, and then add the tomato paste and thyme. Bring this to a boil, cover the pot with its lid, and cook for 1¼ hours until the meat and veggies are very tender. Remove and place on top of the stove, because this baby isn’t done cookin’.

Now, combine 2 tablespoons of butter and flour with a fork and stir into the pot, and then add your frozen onions. In a medium saucepan, sauté the mushrooms in the leftover tablespoons of butter over medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until they’re lightly browned. Then add this into the stew. Bring it all to a boil, and then simmer on low and uncovered for 15 minutes. Season to taste.

The part of the dish that Garner says her famous friends can’t get enough of comes next. Rub garlic on one side of each slice of bread, and spook the stew over each slice as well. Sprinkle the bread with parsley, and voila. You have a fancy AF meal that will make you feel like a French chef.