Monday, 5 March 2012

Classic Beef Bourguignon

So, for my first recipe of 2012, i thought i'd start off with a real sucker punch. It's been too long since i last posted up a recipe, and i'm sorry it's taken so long to get around to it, my culinary mojo has been a little lacking lately!

Beef Bourguignon was a staple of French peasant cuisine in years past, but these days it's become a little high brow and snobbish, served in michelin starred restaurants and expensive bistro's. Sorry, but i'm not having any of it - lets claim this dish back from the world of haute cuisine, it's a good hearty peasant dish! It's the ultimate feel good food, and the perfect dish to serve up on a cold winters day. Give someone a portion of this, and they'll sit savouring every mouthful in silence :)

For those of you that might be thinking it's too hard to make - nonsense. It's a little involved as a recipe, but no more so than any of the others i've posted.

You will need the following ingredients:

1kg of beef - no need to be picky, or use the best cuts!
2 large white onions
1 carrot
1 packet of bacon lardons
5 white mushrooms
2 bay leaves
Clove of Crushed Garlic, or a teaspoon of Garlic Powder
Teaspoon of Dried Thyme
1 bottle of Red Wine - i used the cheapest bottle of burgundy i could find, you're cooking with it, not drinking it!
200ml of beef stock or thin gravy
1 tablespoon of flour
Cooking Oil

Utensils needed:

Casserole Dish with Lid - this has to be large enough to hold the beef and everything else, and STILL have enough room to stop the contents from spilling over in the oven.
Large Saucepan - heavy bottomed if you can get one
Wooden Spoon
Chopping Board
Large Sharp Knife
Three Bowls

As always with oven based recipes, preheat the oven. However, set it to Gas Mark 2 (300° Fahrenheit / 150° Celsius) - we're going for a slow cook, rather than a quick roast. First, chop your beef up into more manageable chunks, about an inch cubed should be fine. Too large, and the meat won't tenderize as well as it otherwise would. Put a little oil into the saucepan, and start to brown the meat. Sprinkle the flour over the top. While it's browning, you want to chop up the onions and the carrot. Once browned, take the meat OUT of the pan, and put it to one side. Put a little more oil back in the saucepan, and add the onions and the bacon, with the garlic & thyme.

Fry the onions & bacon lardons on a low heat until golden brown. At this point, along with the bacon, remove, and set to one side as with the beef. Finally, chop the mushrooms and add these to the pan to cook through. Now you may need to add a little more oil at this point - just make sure the mushrooms are browning properly. Once browned, take out, and put to one side. See the reason for the three bowls now? :)

Now - put the meat back in the pan, along with the bacon, onions & the chopped carrot. Open the wine, and pour it all into the pan, along with the beef stock (or thin gravy, if you used that instead). Add the bay leaves, and put a lid on the saucepan, simmer it for 20 minutes. Stir to stop the contents from sticking to the bottom.

When your timer goes ding, turn the stove off, and decant the contents into your casserole dish. Add the mushrooms at this stage. Put the lid on, and stick it in the oven for at least TWO hours. Yes, it takes time. See, the red wine acts as a tenderizer, and the slow cooking aids the process and enhances the flavour. Three hours would give you the perfect result, but i'm not sure how long most people could resist the fantastic smell from the oven!

After two hours, be VERY careful taking the casserole dish out of the oven - they're both heavy AND blisteringly hot - so take precautions and be mindful of your surroundings. For heavy things like this, i like to make sure i wet my hands a little before i put the oven gloves on, just in case.

Once out, you should be greeted by a glorious sight:

Unfortunately, i didn't take any pictures of the rest of the process, i'm afraid this was my first attempt, and my kitchen was a bit of a mess - nevertheless, it came out PERFECTLY! Perfect side to this is usually pasta, or a baked potato - but feel free to just have it on its own if you prefer, with a big chunk of buttered bread. Before you serve, however, you'll want to remove the bay leaves, they're not very tasty if you bite into one!

Hope you enjoy this, i certainly did :)