September 3, 2010

Beef Bourguignon

Beef bourguignon is what comfort food is all about - rustic, yet luxurious and deliciously satisfying.  It is  sometimes referred to as Beef Burgundy, because the beef in the stew is traditionally braised in red wine from the French region of Bungundy. Beef stock can also be added to the braise, which is usually flavoured with  lardons (strips/cubes of pork fat - substitutes include bacon, pancetta, ham, speck) and aromats like garlic, onion, thyme, bay leaf and parsley. Cocktail onions and mushrooms are always added towards the end of cooking. Different cuts of beef can be used, including blade or chuck steak, which will require you to gently cook the stew for at least 2½ hours in order for the meat to reach a melt-in-your mouth tenderness.

For my first attempt at this French classic, I followed a recipe by French Chef Guillaume Brahimi, who interestingly uses pureed carrots, instead of the usual plain flour, to thicken his sauce. I find this technique actually adds a certain depth and sweetness to the braise that you wouldn't have been able to achieve otherwise.

Oh, how I will miss thy in the coming months of summery weather!

Serves 6:
- 1kg good-quality beef, cut into large chunks (I used scotch fillet)
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 carrots, peeled, halved lengthways and sliced
- 2 celery sticks, leaves intact, halved lengthways and sliced
- 1 leek, halved lengthways and sliced
- 1 onion, chopped
- 5 shallots, halved
- 10 sprigs of thyme
- 7 bay leaves
- 300g speck, cubed (or bacon or pancetta)
- 1 bunch of parsley
- 2 bottles red wine, brought to the boil and simmered to remove acidity
- Sea salt and cracked black pepper, to taste
- 300g button mushrooms

For The Carrot Puree:
- 5 carrots, peeled and chopped
- Seasalt

For the beef bourguignon, heat the oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Seal the beef in batches until golden brown, then drain and set aside, reserving the oil each time.

Using the same pan and oil as the beef, add the carrots, celery, leek, onion and shallots and cook for 5-8 minutes. Place the beef in a large heavy-bottomed pot, top with the vegetables, bay leaves, thyme and speck. Stir to combine. 

Pour the pre-simmered red wine over the beef and vegetables, season with salt and pepper and cover with a lid. Place on the stove and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to very low and gently simmer for 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, for the carrot puree, add the chopped carrots to a pot, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Then add salt and cook until just soft. Pass through a fine sieve or process in a blender. Set aside.

When the meat is cooked to your desired tenderness, add the carrot puree and mushrooms (best when it is just before serving), stir through and cook for a further 10 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve with mashed potato and crusty bread.

Although rich and very flavoursome, the sauce in my beef bourguignon is not as vibrant in colour as the one Guillaume produces. His recipe says to use half a litre of red wine, but when I poured it into the pot, it didn't even cover half of the beef and vegetables. So, I improvised and decided to add extra beef stock to completely cover the ingredients for braising. Afterwards, I double checked his recipe online, which comes with a video of him making the dish in an episode of Food Safari, watched the video and realised that Guillaume actually uses 2 BOTTLES of red wine, not half a litre. So, the recipe is actually printed out incorrectly on the show's website!

Beef Bourguignon with Mashed Potato


Anonymous said...

feel like a nice hearty soup right about now..would be so good in this cold weather:(:(


Spencer @ Moo-Lolly-Bar said...

Beef bourginon is one of my favourite meals so your pictures just make me salivate!