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)
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.