Beef Bourguignon.

A classic French casserole dish. Smoky pancetta, sweet shallots, earthy mushrooms, fruity red wine  and rich beef, absolutely beautiful. One of those dishes you can throw in a pan or casserole dish and forget about for a while it is a definite winner for these cold nights. I believe it was a peasant dish in an earlier France where lesser cuts of meat had to be stewed for hours to make them somewhat edible.

Cook time 2 hours, prep 5 minutes, serves 4. Ingredients:

  • 500g diced beef
  • 300g baby button mushrooms
  • 300g small shallots peeled
  • 500ml red wine. (traditionally burgundy but I just used cabernet sauvignon)
  • A bouquet of fresh thyme (avoid dried thyme its always awful)
  • 250g Smoked pancetta or smoky bacon diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic pureed
  • 1 litre beef stock
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • Gravy granules to thicken

Begin by warming a large saucepan on a medium to high heat with a little oil then add your pancetta or bacon and brown off nicely then throw in the mushrooms, shallots and garlic to absorb all of the smoky bacon flavor. Make sure any dirt or grit is washed from your mushrooms, mine were absolutely filthy today. With that done it is time to add the beef, add it to the pan and cook until it is sealed or browned allover, next you can add the wine. Bring the wine to the boil and simmer for a couple of minutes to cook out the alcohol, raw wine is very unpleasant in any dish, it must be cooked out. Now pour in all of the stock, add the bouquet of thyme, add a lid to your pan and cook on high heat for around two hours.

It may well take less than two hours so keep an eye on the beef so it does not overcook, taste it, prod the beef for texture, you are looking for a spongy squidgy effect to the point where it is almost falling apart. If the meat is too firm it is obviously going to be chewy and is not ready. Once you are happy with the texture you can proceed to thicken the stew with your gravy granules, add a little at a time stirring in until the gravy is nice and thick or to your preference. Beef Bourguignon is best served with creamy mashed potatoes and crusty bread which is how I served mine, also goes nicely with a glass of good red wine of course. Oh and do make sure you remove the bouquet garni before serving, you aren’t supposed to eat that. Bon appetit.

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