Beef Bourguignon is a French beef and red wine stew dotted with carrots, eschalots and, of course, champignons! Classic comfort food for… Australian Winter!
I better mention, too: for your chance to win a set of 2 French Le Chasseur cast iron ovens check out my Friday, 1st June post here – first day of Winter here in Sydney and a great time to start cooking with cast iron cookware!
Today is the second last day of our Autumn in Australia. And, now this may come as a surprise to some of you, it is starting to get pretty cold. Think late November in London, Beijing or New York. Grey skies with an ever-present drizzle, a cold front keeping the temperatures low. Yes, Australian winters are cold. Freezing cold! And we have snow. Not in major cities as such, but the temperatures here can often drop below 0°C (32°F).
Now imagine this with no central heating and only single-glazed windows to shelter you from the cold. That’s our reality May through September. That’s the Australian Winter. Which brings me back to the main point: comfort food.
I’ve done a little research on the classic that is Beef Bourguignon and found that, like so many other classics of today, the dishes weren’t always reserved for fine dining establishments. In fact, like many other regional stews and classics like the meat pie, they began their life as simple peasant food.
I’ve poured over a number of recipes for Beef Burgundy, ranging from Auguste Escoffier’s modern interpretation of the original, through to Julia Child’s version made famous-again in the foodie flick Julie & Julia. A quick skim of a few others found online was added for good measure. Common theme: beef, eschalots, carrots, bacon and mushrooms. Earthy herbs such as thyme and bay leaves. And of course steady, slow heat.
In the end, I had decided to base my Beef Bourguignon on Guillaume Brahimi’s rough, rustic version (video) featured in a French episode of Maeve O’Meara’s Food Safari. Unlike the traditional stew, which is thickened with flour, his version of the sauce is gluten-free as it is thickened with more yummy goodness: carrot puree. Perfect comfort food and a great way to add, or hide, extra veg in the dish.
The result was a satisfying meal with fork-tender meat and a thick, earthy red wine sauce. Exactly what I needed to comfort me out of the bad bout of cold I’ve been having. Which reminds me: thank you to everyone who has left me a comment, sent me an email or text to cheer me up while I’ve been sick. And to Mr Chipconnoisseur for taking over for a day. I’m feeling much better now.
For the Beef Bourguignon:
- 500 g organic beef chuck steak diced
- 3 whole celery sticks
- 3 medium carrots
- 1 leek white part only
- 6 French eschalots
- 250 g button mushrooms
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tbsp butter
- 200 g rasher bacon cut into small strips
- 6 fresh bay leaves or 10-12 dried
- 10 g fresh thyme sprigs or 20g dried leaves
- 750 ml red wine
- 1 1/2 cup beef stock
- salt and pepper to taste
For the carrot puree:
- 2 carrots peeled and diced
- Potato mash
- Freshly chopped parsley
To prepare the vegetables:
- Peel carrots, eschalots. Roughly chop carrots, celery sticks and slice leek.
- Brush off any dirt from the mushrooms and set them aside - mushrooms will be added toward the very end.
To make the Beef Bourguignon:
- Place a cast iron casserole on the stove adding 2 tablespoons of oil and the butter.
- Heat a little oil in a medium-sized pan over high heat and brown the beef, working in batches.
- Transfer meat to the casserole. Add vegetables, except for mushrooms, to the same pan with a little oil if needed and cook stir-frying for a couple of minutes.
- Transfer to the casserole and turn on the heat to medium high, preferably on your second largest burner.
- Add thyme and bay leaves, and bacon, Stir fry for a minute then add beef stock.
In the meantime, prepare the wine:
- Pour wine into a medium saucepan and bring to the boil. Cook for a couple of minutes. This will get rid off the alcohol and acidity in the wine.
- When ready add the wine to the casserole, along with a generous pinch of salt and pepper.
- Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a minimum, cover and cook for about 2 hours of until the beef is tender.
- At this stage, add whole mushrooms and carrot puree. Mix well and cook for another 10 minutes or so.
To make the carrot mash:
- Place diced carrot in a small saucepan with enough water to cover.
- Bring to a boil and cook for 5-10 minutes or until the carrot is tender.
- Puree with a stick blender.
- Serve Beef Bourgingon with a dollop of mash potato and generous sprinkling of freshly chopped parsley.