Cozy, comfort food: Fall flavors from a Harford hot spot

Pairings Bistro creates a seasonal dish

  • Chef Jon Kohler of Pairings Bistro in Bel Air, Md. created a seasonal dish, Beef Bourguignon, for this month's Harford magazine.
Chef Jon Kohler of Pairings Bistro in Bel Air, Md. created a seasonal… (Photo by Nicole Munchel )
October 04, 2012|By Jennifer K. Dansicker

As fall approaches, the cuisines in area restaurants begin to change to suit the warm colors, temperatures and flavors of the season. Perhaps it’s the cooling breezes or the leaves falling, but there is something about the weather that entices diners to seek out comfort food. Chef/owner Jon Kohler of Pairings Bistro in Bel Air has created a classic favorite, Beef Bourguignon.

“Nothing is more comfort food when the weather starts to turn cooler than Beef Bourguignon. It’s rich and tasty and pairs well with a wide variety of red wines from Bordeaux to Rhone to Rioja Spain to California Pinot Noir,” says Kohler, 40.

Pairings Bistro is Kohler’s first restaurant, which he opened in March 2009. “Harford County gets a bad rap for chain restaurants, and I thought the community needed a restaurant like mine. I also wanted it [the restaurant] to be close to where I live and be in the community where I live,” he says.

Pairings Bistro is a fine-dining restaurant that specializes in Mediterranean and Belgiun cuisines and was honored in our  2011 and 2010 Reader’s Poll as one of the best date places and new restaurants in Harford County.

Kohler graduated from Johnson and Wales University in Denver with a culinary degree in 1994. He met his wife Sandy, 41, and moved to Harford County in 1996. They are raising two children Ryan, 9, and Jenna, 7.

Pairings Bistro

2105 Laurel Bush Road Suite 108

Bel Air, Md. 21015


Chef Jon Kohler's recipe for
Beef Bourguignon

(serves 8)


8 ounces red or fingerling potatoes (cut into 1/2 inch thick slices)

1.5 pounds Deer Creek beef (Local ribeye preferred, cut into 1/2 inch cubes)

25 baby carrots (cut lengthwise in half)

15 cremini mushrooms (quartered)

4 shallots, large dice

6 garlic cloves

Small bunch of Italian parsley

Bay leaves

4 oz thick cut bacon (cut into 1/2 inch slices)

Dijon mustard

Salt and pepper (to taste)

Canola oil

2 cups beef or veal stock for braising

Red Wine Reduction

1/2 Bottle red wine (you can drink the other half while making the dish)

3 cups diced Mirepoix (equal parts carrots, celery, onions)

2 thyme sprigs

3 cloves garlic

3 cups beef or veal stock


Red Wine Reduction Directions

Combine all ingredients in a large braising pan. Bring contents to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain and cool.


Season beef with salt and pepper and sauté in same braising pan with a small amount of canola oil over high heat. Do not crowd pan. Two or three batches may be necessary. Brown beef on all sides. Remove beef from pan and allow to rest on paper towels to remove any additional oil or grease. 

Return seared beef to pan and add enough beef stock to come to the top of the beef. Bring to a simmer and add pepper, thyme, chopped parsley, and bay leaf. Cover and place in oven at 325º for 2 hours or until meat is tender.

Place potatoes, carrots, salt and garlic in a large saucepan. Add cold water to cover the potatoes. Boil over high heat and simmer until the potatoes and carrots are tender (approx. 15 minutes). Drain.

To finish: Sauté bacon and mushrooms in a large saucepan till brown. Remove any excess grease. Add vegetables, and red wine reduction. Gently toss in with beef and place back in oven for additional 20 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with Dijon mustard.

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