Boeuf Bourguignon: A French Peasant Dish

Boeuf Bourguignon dates back to the Middle Ages and began as peasant food. At the time, slow cooking was popular in rural areas because it was cheap, filling, and could feed many. It was also a safe and thorough way to cook tougher cuts of meat that would have otherwise gone to waste.

Spring has sprung as goes the saying but it’s been cold here on the coast. Today is grey and rainy and I’m in the kitchen listening to Franz Gordon’s In Other Songs. There’s something nostalgic about slow jazz on a rainy day for me, must be my love for Woody Allen films.

I haven’t made Boeuf Bourguignon in years, in fact the last time I made it was when I was first dating my husband; it was one of the first meals I cooked him. A fairly simple dish, Bourguignon consists mainly of meat, onions, mushrooms and wine. Served with garlic mash, it’s oh so good. I added carrots and celery to mine this time but the first time I made it I followed Julia Child’s recipe which calls for pearl onions. I had a Bouriguignon when we were in Paris and it did have carrots.

There are two ways you can make this dish. Today I made it in the slow cooker but the first time I made it, I put it all in a crockpot and slow cooked it for 4 hours in the oven. Instructions for both below.

You will need: (serves 4)

  • 1/2 kg Stewing Beef
  • 2 large carrots roughly chopped
  • 3 sticks of celery chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic sliced
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 1 small pinch of ground cloves
  • 375ml Pinot Noir (or Burgundy)
  • 1/4 cup plain flour
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • Olive Oil
  • 4 slices of thickly sliced bacon cut into small pieces
  • 1 shallot finely chopped
  • 8 Button Mushrooms quartered
  • 1/2 cup of chopped parsley

Prep Ahead

Chop the stewing beef into bite sized chunks. Place the beef, carrots, celery, garlic and onions into a large bowl with the mustard, bay leaf, a generous pinch of black pepper, a pinch of ground cloves and the wine. Mix well, then cover and refrigerate for a few hours. You can also do this the night before and leave it overnight in the fridge.

Once the Beef is Marinated

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Pour the contents of the beef bowl into a colander set over another bowl and reserve the wine mixture. Pick out just the beef and pat dry with kitchen paper, then toss with the flour. Put a large pan on a medium heat and melt the butter with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. In batches, brown the floured beef all over, turning with tongs and place in the slow cooker once browned. Add the vegetables to the same pan and cook for 10 minutes, or until starting to caramelize, stirring occasionally and scraping up any sticky bits. Add the cooked veg to the slow cooker and pour the wine mixture overtop. Set the slow cooker to High and cook for 4 hours.

If you are making it in a crock pot in the oven, return the beef to the pan once the veg is cooked and pour over the reserved wine then bring to a simmer. Place it all into the crock pot, cover and transfer to the oven for around 4 hours, or until the beef is tender.

To Serve

About 30 minutes before the slow-cooking time is up, slice the bacon and place it in a large non-stick pan on a medium-high heat. Add the shallots after about 2 minutes, followed by the mushrooms. Cook for about 15 minutes or until golden, stirring regularly. Finely chop the parsley and add it to the bacon and mushrooms near the end of cooking. Add the contents of the pan to the bourguignon once the timer is up and season with salt if needed.

Serve on fluffy garlic-y mashed potatoes.

Bon Appetit!

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A little French music to go with dinner

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