Mmm, beef bourguignon, yummy.
This is one of my favourite dishes, and it’s very easy to make. It’s not strictly named for the Burgundy region of France, but rather a method of cooking popularly used in the area, where beef is cooked in a red wine sauce. Traditionally, the bæuf à la beef bourguignonne, to give it its full title, would be made with pearl onions, mushrooms and small pieces of bacon, but I generally follow the recipe set by our old friend Anthony Bourdain, which simplifies the shopping list and uses carrots to add a dash of variety and a splash of colour to the dish. To celebrate this choice, I’m going to write this entry in the style of Mr Bourdain. Ready, motherfucker?
Actually, I’m not. But the idea was amusing for a second.
First up, the meat. I was able to procure close to a kilo of Aberdeen Angus braising steak from my favourite butcher, the good people at Kent & Sons of St. John’s Wood.
After heating a tablespoon of olive oil in my faithful Le Creuset casserole dish until it’s almost smoking, I dump the seasoned meat into the base of the pan, one small batch at a time, ensuring that the flesh is well browned before removing and setting aside. In the picture below you can see the fond beginning to form in the pan. This is the sticky, concentrated residue formed by food as it cooks and caramelises, and is to be revered; it’s culinary nectar. Worried about cleaning it off the pan? Don’t be, and don’t bother. This stuff is packed with incredible flavour, and you want it to develop. With a little bit of de-glazing, its presence will enhance the flavour of any dish, and the pot will be easy to clean. But we’ll get to that.
With the meat removed, I add four thinly sliced onions to the pot.
Dropping the heat to medium, I cook this for about ten minutes, until it’s a lovely golden brown, then add a couple of tablespoons of plain flour. After mixing this in and cooking for a few minutes further, a large glass of burgundy finds its way into the pot. At this point your best friend is a wooden spoon, which you use to scrape all that delicious fond from the bottom and sides of the pan, making sure it’s well mixed in.
Bring the wine to the boil, whack the meat back in the pot, then add six sliced carrots, a couple of cloves of garlic, bouquet garni (parsley, thyme, and bay leaf, tied together in a bundle, usually wrapped in cheesecloth), enough water to cover the ingredients comfortably, and a couple of spoonfuls of demi-glace. If you don’t have veal bones, an enormous stock pot, a spare couple of days and a lot of patience, a pretty reasonable demi-glace can be obtained from the More Than Gourmet company.
And then? Simmer the bugger for a couple of hours, taking time out every fifteen minutes or so to check that nothing is sticking to the pan. Discard the bouquet garni, serve up with a sprinkling of parsley, and add a couple of bay leaves to the centre of the dish if you happen to be taking a photograph. This small touch makes it look like you really know what you’re doing.