Jennifer Garner cooking beef bourguignon almost goes horribly wrong

Jennifer Garner - beef bourguignon
Photo via Jennifer Garner/Instagram

Jennifer Garner nearly burned her kitchen down in the process of cooking her family’s traditional Christmas meal.

In yet another utterly charming entry into her “Pretend Cooking Show” series, the 13 Going on 30 actress prepared a holiday favorite among members of the Garner family: beef bourguignon. In a four-minute clip shared on her Instagram page, Garner walked viewers through the process of making her favorite version of the recipe, created by Ina Garten.

The four-minute episode is, as usual, deeply endearing, as viewers watch the thoroughly relatable Garner walk — and occasionally stumble — her way through the recipe. She announces at the outset that she is preparing “Barefoot Contessa’s — from Barefoot in Paris — beef bourguignon.” The recipe is part of her family’s Christmas tradition, according to Garner, and she noted in the video’s caption that, when it comes to traditions, “all you do to give them meaning is keep them.”

The real culprit behind Garner’s near-accident was doubling the recipe. The 49-year-old must have had a few extra guests this year, because she decided to double up on the already hearty recipe, adding a truly impressive amount of bacon, beef chuck, and carrots to the stew.

One of the best things about Garner’s “Pretend Cooking Show” is how candid its episodes are. Garner comes across as a sweet, quirky, regular person in each fresh episode, and the beef bourguignon entry is no different. She leaves in many of the moments in which she stumbles over her words, makes mistakes in the recipe, and makes quiet comments to herself, allowing her audience to feel as though they’re right there in the kitchen with her.

Following a brief AMA, Garner plunges into the recipe. She chops carrots and browns meat — greeting her cooking bacon with a sing-song “hello friends” and notes that, because she doesn’t overly care for onions, she adds fewer than the recipe calls for. The central portion of the video mostly views like a traditional cooking show, as she chops and adds ingredients to smooth, jazzy Christmas tunes.

It’s when she reaches the cognac step that things nearly go awry. Remember, Garner is doubling up on the recipe this year, so she ends up adding a full cup of cognac to the pot, before using a long-stemmed lighter to burn off the alcohol. When she reaches in to light up the spirit, a gout of flame erupts from the pot, reaching nearly to her ceiling. Garner, after a brief moment of shock and concern, issues “a thousand pardons” for nearly causing a house fire, and urges viewers not to “double the cognac.”

The remainder of the video returns to a more traditional cooking show format. Garner, still giggling over her cognac misstep, tosses the stew into the oven for a while as she prepares the mushrooms and excitedly buzzes around the kitchen. In the end, she serves up a hearty and delicious-looking stew, which Garner enjoys with a small, satisfied smile and a delighted wiggle.

The video somehow manages to encompass the entire spirit of the holiday, from the charming homey vibes to the brief bout of chaos. No proper holiday season has passed without a misstep or two, making Garner’s video match up flawlessly with the season. As she notes in the video’s caption, “the smell of this perfect stew makes me feel happy, cozy, and relaxed,” a sentiment that is very much communicated by the time the video closes out.