The Perfect Winters Meal on a Summers Day: Beef Bourguinon

Beef BourgignonSeptember should see the commencing of autumn. The trees are starting to change from bright green to yellow to amber and then once the leaves have fallen a brownish colour. To mark this seasonal change in the kitchen the BBQ has been packed away and the slow cooker has been dusted down ready to be used. The only problem, today is the hottest September on record.

I’ve lived in my house for 53 weeks and during this time I have cooked almost every night, give or take a few I would say I’ve cooked at least 300 times in my new house. I’ve cooked everything from romantic meals for two, 3 course restaurant style meal for 6 people (goats cheese with beetroot 5 ways for starters, pan roasted sea bream with mussel cream, olive oil mash and baby vegetables for mains and chocolate fondant with pistachio crust and dried strawberries). I’ve cooked a BBQ for 20 people, Fully cooked English breakfast for 14, Two Christmas dinners, home made bread, home made pasta and (many) cakes.

Don’t get me wrong I love to cook and I love to entertain and having been a chef cooking for large numbers come easy to me (ask me to build a wall or paint a wall and I’d crumble. No pun intended). The one draw back with entertaining apart from the washing up is the preparation or Mise en place as we call it in restaurants. Any decent chef will know that the better prepped you are the easier cooking becomes. This is why when I did my 3 course restaurant meal I was making lemon oil and lemon sort 6 days before the meal and cook my vegetables for Christmas day on Christmas eve.

This weekend was a small together for family that started at 5 for lunch which changed to 6 at the last moment. So after spending Saturday making 2 cakes for Sunday (lemon drizzle and a fruit and nut ring cake similar to bundt cake) I decided that I will kick back and make lunch as easy as possible. So beef bourguinon is it.

Its been a while since I’ve made beef bourguinon so I went looking for recipe to make sure I made it authentic. You might scream and shout at me as you read this but a stew is a stew, meat, vegetables, stock and herbs. After trawling through a number of my cook books I finally a recipe in Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles cookbook (I’ve been lucky enough to eat there in NY and it was an amazing meal). Flicking to the page I took a look at the ingredients, closed the book and started to cook. I wasn’t looking for a recipe for a method and weights but just a gentle reminder of the ingredients.

12 hours later with no effort the beef bourguinon was ready to be served with spring onion mash and wilted baby spinach. So do I like this effortless no hassle sit back and relax cooking style? You’ll have to see what I post next time.

800g Diced beef
400g Pancetta or streaky bacon – Diced
750ml Red Wine – Whole bottle
500ml Chicken Stock – I used homemade
400g Mushrooms
6 Whole baby onions – Peeled and cut in half
6 Carrots
15ml Olive Oil
1 Table Spoon tomato puree
50g Plain flour
15ml Brandy
2 Garlic cloves
Few sprigs of thyme
Few sprigs of parsley


If you have time place the beef in large bowl and cover with the bottle of wine. Marinade for 24 hours. Strain the wine and keep.

Heat the olive oil in a large heavy bottom pan. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat stirring occasionally, until browned. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon on to a large plate. Mix the beef through the flour and shake off the excess. In batches sear the beef in the hot oil for 3 to 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove the seared cubes and put on the plate with the bacon continue until all the beef is browned. Set aside.

Add the carrots, mushroom’s & onions tablespoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of pepper to the pan and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the brandy, stand back, and ignite with a match to burn off the alcohol. Put all the meat and bacon back into the pot with the juices. Add the wine you saved plus the chicken stock to cover the meat. Add the tomato & thyme. At this point transfer to a slow cooker or cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and place it in the oven. If placing in the oven cook  for about 1 1/4 hours on 180ºc or until the meat and vegetables are very tender when pierced with a fork. With a slow cooker turn it to low and leave until you want to eat it.

As my number of guest changed from 5 to 6 people I added some freshly cooked diced streaky bacon and mushrooms at the end.


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