Monday 31 January 2011

Boeuf Bourguignon

Yesterday I went down to our nearest town Preuilly sur Claise to see some friends of ours who were hosting a 'New' New Year's party in aid of  Australian flood relief. Susan and Simon are Australian and used to live in the Queensland area which has been so badly affected. Niall didn't come as he had a flu-y cold and was sneezing fit to shake our rafters.
January, Tres Riches Heures de Duc de Berry, folio 2r

It was nice to meet people, some of whom I'd never met, but knew through their blogs. I didn't stay for lunch--the party was in the morning to co-incide with another being held in Australia-- I was making boeuf Bourguignon for dinner and although the preparation doesn't take a lot of time the cooking does.

We buy most of our pork and beef from a local farmer, Christophe who sells to the public as well as to trade. Just before Christmas we'd bought a 5kg caisson (box) of beef. We'd had 5 kg of pork from him in October which was excellent. The caisson is a mixed range of good cuts. The beef box contained: sausages, entrecotes, minute steaks, a larg-ish pot roast and stewing (Bourguignon) beef. So far we've had some of everything except the stewing beef and the pot roast; and it's been lovely.

So now it was the turn of the boeuf Bourguignon. During the week I'd received a parcel from my sister in law which included the dvd 'Julie & Julia' --brillaint timing on her part. It's a film which entwines two stories about cooking and food. Story one is about Julia Child, a culinary legend in the US whose book 'Mastering the Art of French Cooking' is the cornerstone of French cooking in the US. Julie is 'a writer in the making' who decides to set herself the challenge of cooking all the recipes contained in Julia Child's book in a 1 year and to recount her progress via a blog. The dvd came with a 'freebie'; a little mini book containing 30 recipes from  'Mastering the Art of French Cooking'; it included Julia's recipe for boeuf Bourguignon.

When I was a child her book was gospel in my mother's kitchen , and my mother, who had lived and worked in Paris in the 1950's for a number of years, knew a thing or two herself about French cooking. I can also just about remember us watching the Julia Child's TV show in the late 1960's. These must have been re-runs as the original series was broadcast in 1963 and I couldn't have seen that.
Julia Child's cookbook

Anyway back to the boeuf Bourguignon. Mine is a simplified version when compared to hers; but I do agree with her that your meat has to be dry otherwise it won't brown properly and good browning does make a real difference. I'm notorious for not really weighing or measuring things in details so apologies for the lack of precise quantities but here's my version for 3 to 4 servings:

1 packet of lardons
cubed good quality stewing beef--probably about 450g; dried off (use old tea towel)
clove of garlic
2 large carrots finely chopped
1 onion chopped
2 shalottes chopped ( I don't like little silver onions so use shalottes ; but traditionally one uses silver onions)
bouquet garni
flour to coat the meat
between 300 and 500 ml of beef stock
about 3/4 bottle of red wine
sauteed mushrooms to add in at the end of you want

use a good cast iron casserole pan which you can put in the oven
pre-heat your oven to 175/180C

I gently fry off the lardons, crushed clove of garlic and onion and then remove them from the pan. In the lardon fat I then brown the beef.
Once the beef is well browned I add the lardons, garlic and onion back into the pan, add in a knob of butter and sprinkle the whole generously with flour. 
Stir it round to make sure everything is well coated and well absorbed--don't worry if it begins to cake to the bottom of your casserole.
It will 'dissolve'  when you add the liquids --which is what you do next.
Don't add it all in one go but put in about 1/2 the stock and stir well. Then add the other half of the stock. Give it another stir and add the red wine somewhere between 3/4 and a whole bottle. If you don't mind a slightly wetter stew add the whole bottle of wine.
Add in your carrots and shallots [silver onions]. 
Everything should be just covered by the liquid.
Add the bouquet garni and put in the oven for about 2 1/2 to 3 hrs.
Just before the time's up sautee off your mushrooms and then add them to the casserole.

We had our boeuf Bourguignon with new potatoes and nice bottle of Touraine red --yum-- and watched the dvd in which boeuf Bourguignon certainly features! And today we had second helpings for lunch. Personally I think it probably tastes even better re-heated.


GaynorB said...

I've requested this film on my Lovefilm list, and from comments I've heard it seems well worth watching.
I will try out your recipe for boeuf Bourguignon at the weekend. Although this is something I regularly make, I don't uaually put in quite as much wine. I'll let you know how it goes.
I always think that a chilli tastes better reheated too!

Niall & Antoinette said...

I used about 3/4 of a bottle so that's 50 - 50 ratio (stock to wine). Let me know what you think--mine's a lazy persons version when compared to Julia Child's.
And I totally agree about chilli!

Susan said...

I enjoyed Julie and Julia - saw it on a plane to Australia. As a non-American, I'd never heard of her before. I thought it was rather sad that she was sniffy about Julie's blog at the end.

Glad you could come to the party Antoinette and hope Niall recovers soon.

Tim said...

Given the dank weather over the last two days, some good heartwarming food is called for.... Chandeleur is postponed here.... can't find my favourite frying pan... it is in a box marked K [and a number] in the Grange.... which is full of boxes!
Lovely to meet you at S&S's, and the Cassini entry has given me a lot to look at... and am now awaiting Susan's entry on searching French archives.

The WV is "ousedru" which is probably the brew they serve [post inundation] at a well known Sam Smiths house that gets flooded every year... probably comes out of the "Alpenbrau" font!!

Niall & Antoinette said...

Nice to meet you too!
Our grange too is still filled with boxes of stuff to sort out.... a job for better weather.

Sam Smiths?? I've missed the connection here but do know the pub in York I think you're referring to. Been in there when we lived in York although it wasn't one of our regular watering holes.

Tim said...

I don't think it is anyone's regular watering holes.... except the Ouse. It is a Sam Smith's pub... one of our regular stops was the Blue Bell... and do you put dark chocolate or cocao in your chilli?

Niall & Antoinette said...

Tim: regular haunts were the York Arms (Sam Smiths), John Bull (free house) & Spread Eagle, sometimes the Cross Keys and Black Swan but did go down to the Blue Bell now and again. Lovely tiny place--completely original. Did you ever go to The White Horse in Beverley? Known as Nellie's? Also un-changed right down to the gas lighting.

As to chilli--no don't put dark chocolate in it though I know it does work.

Tim said...

The John Bull was Pauline's favourite watering hole... until the garage next door bought it and turned it into a Mazda showroom.... don't mention Mazda to Pauline!!
Pauline would probably know the White Horse... she's got a cousin there [near Beverley] and also she was the CAMRA treasurer for the York branch for many years.
Small world, init!?

Niall & Antoinette said...

John Bull as in just beyond Jewbury/Peaseholme Green and onto Layerthorpe rd where Nevil the ex-baker was the landlord? If same definite a small world!!

Niall & Antoinette said...

erm 'definitely'. Trying to type with one arm full of persistent kitten. She lies on my left arm & between me and the keyboard

Tim said...

Yep... Pauline confirms that Neville was the man!!

Niall & Antoinette said...

Tim--small world indeed. :-) We were regulars up until about 1987/8 when we moved to Edinburgh.

Pollygarter said...

Me too - I moved from York to Leeds in October 1987, the day after the hurricane. I used to cycle there, and I reckoned my bike knew its own way home! I remember Nellies from CAMRA trips - didn't it have a rocking horse with no rockers over the door?