Recipe: Beouf Bourguignon
I make stew all the time in winter, but wanted to do something different…thus went searching for a classic beouf bourguignon. I have made this dish in the past–my previous efforts have been sort of OK’ish but hardly noteworthy.
The chef, Marco Pierre White, is endorsing Knorr and he is promoting his “little black book” of recipes on the web with this dish included, here is the source. So far so good. Below are the original ingredients with my adaptations, largely due to Sainsbury being pretty rubbish. I swear they are actually trying to be Asda. Waitrose is out of my financial league at the mo, and I can’t bear Tesco–any shop that has a 6 meter stretch of only Heinz tomato soup is not my kinda shopping experience.
Anyways, I am fascinated by Marco. All that simmering tension/passion, the is-he-or-isn’t-he about to utterly lose it, the control freakiness of the man, well, what can I say, it would appear to “do it for me.” I am appalled at myself…but having said that….no, no <shakes-head>
Ingredients (Reported to Serve 6, though 4 of us polished it off):
SMALL ADVANCE WARNING: This recipe says it takes 40 mins prep and 3 and ¾ hours in the oven. The prep was nearer and hour and a quarter to get to the stage of putting the casserole in the oven, largely because I am not Marco and there are no shortcuts. Braising steak takes maybe 45 mins to an hour less time than brisket.
- 800g beef brisket (I used 2 packs of braising steak , altogether 840g, that had not been diced up yet, it was two packs for £6, not too eye-watering)
- 2tbsp sunflower oil (light olive oil used instead)
- 1 onion (check)
- 1tsp plain flour (check)
- ½ leek, the white part (didn’t have one, left it out)
- ½ bulb of garlic (check)
- 1 rasher unsmoked bacon (used streaky smoked bacon)
- 125ml port (optional) (didn’t use, don’t drink port, substituted 75 mls of a cooking red wine that I have as a cupboard standby, it is sweeter than ordinary drinking reds)
- ¼ stick of celery (check)
- A few sprigs of thyme (check, from my garden, oh er)
- A few sprigs of flat leaf parsley (check, but it was the curly kind from a pot on the windowsill)
- 1 bay leaf (check, fresh one from my garden too!)
- ½ bottle full-bodied red wine e.g. Bordeaux (used 1/2 bottle of cheap grow-hairs-on-your-chest Sicilian stuff that cost £3.49 a bottle)
- 1 Knorr Rich Beef Stock Pot (can’t use these as they contain paprika, used organic beef stock cube instead)
For the Garnish:
- 200g cooked pearl onions or silverskin onions (used cooked shallots instead as Sainsbury had nothing so exotic as wee pearl onions fresh or frozen)
- 2 rashers unsmoked bacon (used smoked streaky)
- 200g wild mushrooms (used ordinary cup mushrooms, sliced, as Sainsbury had no choices in mushrooms and most of what they did have was sweating in plastic, yeurgh.)
1. Marco says to chop the beef into large chunks of around three inches, mine were around 2 inches/5 cm though as this was the nature of the braising steak I bought. You are trying to get roughly equal sizes so they cook at the same time and also look nice to serve. Think big though, as there is considerable shrinkage. At least, I think that’s what Marco said…or maybe I dreamt that bit.
2. Brown the meat in batches in a hot pan with some oil. I would usually flour my beef first, but I followed Marco’s way and didn’t do this. On the video he says to make sure the pan is really hot otherwise the beef starts stewing in its own juices and not colouring. He is so right! He then advises to drain off the excess fat in a colander. I wouldn’t normally do this either but I was determined to follow the recipe for once and was surprised how much fat drained off.
3. Retain the browning oil in the pan and then add a roughly chopped onion and the white part of the leek, sliced, if using. Cook these gently until softened but not colouring, although it is hard to tell as the meat juices colour the onions anyway. Add in a teaspoon of flour to thicken the sauce a little, but I am getting the idea that this dish does not have a thickened gravy like my stew, it is more of a rich sauce really. He also advises to strain off any excess oil from the onions but I did not have much excess if any, so did not have to do this.
4. Next, add to the pot the bottom half of a bulb of garlic sliced through horizontally. If you use the bottom half with the root attached, it could be easier to fish out later. Marco reckons crushed garlic is too strong.
5. Make a bouquet garni to flavour the sauce: a bay leaf, couple of sprigs of thyme, a quarter of a stick of celery, some parsley, in a bundle and tied with a bit of string. Do not use coloured string. Do not ask me why I know this, it was a long time ago and I would like to forget all about it if you don’t mind…
6. Add in half a bottle of a robust red wine and the port [if using] into the pot, the bouquet garni and a big rasher of bacon. Bring it to the boil and keep simmering hard to reduce it to around half.
7. Add in the drained beef, ½ litre of beef stock, bring back to a simmer and then place in a casserole dish and in the oven at 140-150 °C / 300 F.
8. Check that it is bubbling away nicely and not drying out after about two hours. Add more beef stock if so, and reduce the temperature by a few degrees. Mid-point check; the dish tasted great already, earthy and strong, but I noticed garlic starting to float away independently of the bulb, so much for my thesis that the root would keep it together. How can you tell the sauce is reducing? By the great rings round the casserole dish.
9. For the garnish, wait until the casserole is about 20 minutes away from being ready. Dry fry (i.e. no oil) strips of bacon or lardons in a skillet. I simmered my shallots whole for a few minutes in water to soften them and then fried them to a goldeny brown in a separate pan. Once the bacon is done, remove to drain and add the mushrooms to the same pan and cook for a few minutes until goldeny brown too.
10. To serve, remove the bouquet garni, fish out the garlic and I removed my large slice of streaky bacon that had sort of disintegrated. Either plate up with some beef, some sauce and then the onions, mushroom and bacon garnish, or place all the beef on a serving platter, pour over the sauce and then heap on the garnishes. I would also just add sprigs of parsley for colour and have some colourful veg on the side as it is a deeply brown dish.
Overally, I reckon it cost about £10 to put this dish on the table. So, what was it like? Would I make this again? The prep and cooking time is a complete pain, this is not a family weekday dinner, rather it is for high days and holidays or something like a weekend anniversary dinner. It also generates a phenomenal amount of washing up. Was it worth it? Oh God yes. Oh my God, yes. Oh dear goodness it so was. The smell of it wafting through the house, it was utterly divine. The taste, unsurpassed in my humble kitchen. Marco, Marco, please let me sit quietly at your feet…and don’t shout at me if I did this wrong!