Boeuf Bourguignon Recipe

This is an essential winter warmer food, with wine (Boeuf Bourguignon) or without (Beef Casserole).

 

The large chunks of beef should melt in the mouth when served with the lovely red/brown gravy.

 

I think this is best served with plain boiled potatoes to absorb the juices.

  Boeuf Bourguignon

 

Ingredients:

2 lb (900g) stewing steak, chuck steak or even shin beef, cut into 2 inch / 5 cm cubes
½ to ¾ bottle good red wine , alternatively for casserole, beer or stout
2 medium or 1 large onion, thinly sliced, also add a few small whole shallots
3 medium-sized carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme, or a teaspoon or so of dried thyme / mixed herbs
2 bay leaves
½ to ¾ of pint beef stock, more if needed
1 lb (450g) button mushrooms, or to taste, mostly sliced with a few left whole

Method:

Warm a non stick pan or cast iron casserole dish over a medium-high heat. Add the bacon / lardons to the pan and cook until golden and crispy (Fig 1). Remove the bacon from the pan and rest in a dish lined with a paper towel to drain. You may need to pour out (but retain in a cup) some of the bacon fat, just leave a good tablespoon of bacon fat in the pan to continue cooking with.

Dust the beef cubes with a sprinkling of plain flour, salt and pepper (Fig 2) then drop them into the hot bacon fat. Once you have a single layer of beef cubes on the bottom of the casserole dish or pan, allow them to sear, don't over crowd the pan (Fig 3); sear the meat in batches and remove. Let the beef sear until golden brown, try not to move it round too much. This should take about 2 to 3 minutes per layer, set the beef aside when seared (Fig 4).

Figure 1 Figure 2 Figure 3 Figure 4

 

Once all of the beef is done, add a little more bacon fat or oil and put the whole shallots in to brown, add the sliced onions and soften them too. Remove the onions and shallots from the pan when cooked. Deglaze the pan or dish with a good cup of the red wine. If not using wine i.e. making casserole, then you can use water, beer or stout to deglaze. When deglazing, scrape the dark glaze and any crispy bits from the bottom of the pan as the liquid simmers.

 

If you have used a pan, now is the time to transfer the liquid to a casserole dish. If you have been working in the dish, when the bottom of the dish is clean, add the seared meat, onion and shallot, carrots, celery, garlic, herbs and the stock to the deglazing liquid; Add the sprigs of thyme or dry thyme and the bay leaves into the mixture. Pour the remaining wine over the beef and vegetables, the liquid should just cover the beef and vegetables, season to taste (Fig 5).

  Figure 5

 

Put the lid on and place the dish in an oven which has been preheated to 300°F (150°C). Cook for at least 2 hours if not 3. Check the meat after the first hour, at this point add the mushrooms, some of these should be sliced, however, for a truly traditional French look place some of the smaller mushrooms in to the mix whole. Check every half hour after adding the mushrooms. Cooking times can vary; the dish is done when the meat falls apart easily with pressure from a fork. If needed you can top up the mixture to ensure it does not dry out.

If you are making the casserole version then feel free to add potatoes half way through the cooking, you can also add such things as chopped leek, swede turnip, parsnip etc. to bulk out the casserole.

To serve:

 

Serve the Bourguignon version with boiled potatoes that have knobs of butter slathered on them. Sprinkle with chopped parsley to garnish, use a crusty baguette along with a good red wine to accompany the meal and you have a winner (Fig 6).

 

Serving tip, a knob of butter in the mix just before serving will help to put a shine on the gravy.

 

When we lived in France, we always cooked this on top of our wood burning stove; it is a delicious French winter warmer.

 

The alternative of cooking without wine just means you can use the alternatives of your choice to deglaze the pan. You can add dumplings on the top of the Beef Casserole to provide an additional feel good factor.

 

If you add tomato puree and white cannelloni beans along with pasta, the casserole can start to feel quite Italian.

  Figure 6