Even if only four people are eating, I recommend going full bull here and stewing the whole recipe; this stew tastes better the next day and besides, it hardly takes any more time or effort to make more. You can make this the day before your dinner party then re-heat it, but it’s so delicious you will want lots of leftovers to enjoy the day after your party, on a warm bowl nestled in one hand while you sit on the sofa, swollen feet propped up, a faint buzz in your skull and a smile on the lips.
Boeuf Bourguignon (adapted by Jamie Pea from a classic recipe by Ginette Mathiot in I Know How to Cook)
- 200g white mushrooms, stems off and cut into quarters
- 160g shallots, halved and quartered if large (can substitute a large white onion, sliced).
- 200g lean bacon strips, diced
- 1.3kg beef for stewing, cut into 4cm cubes and patted dry
- 50g flour
- 400mL red wine – use an inexpensive but good Bordeaux, Pinot Noir or Burgundy (“Bourgogne”) wine
- 600mL beef stock, hot (can use 2 standard beef stock cubes dissolved in 600mL of boiling-hot water)
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 10 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 10 sprigs fresh parsley
- 200g carrots (1 large carrot), sliced in a “roll cut”
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Make a bouquet garni with the thyme and parsley by tying them in a tight bundle with a piece of kitchen string or a piece of unwaxed, non-flavoured dental floss; or go au naturel like me and use an extra piece of thyme as twine.
- Pour 3 teaspoons of olive oil or vegetable oil in a heavy enameled cast-iron casserole pot (such as Staub or Le Creuset brands) and turn on medium-high heat. Sautee mushrooms, adding 1 teaspoon of water if it starts to burn, for about 5 minutes then set aside in a bowl. Add another 3 tsp of oil then sautee the onions and bacon until golden brown. Remove them and set aside in another bowl.
- Add another 2 teaspoons of oil, turn the heat to high and sear the beef – spread the meat evenly in the pan and let it cook for 3 minutes, then flip it and brown on all the other sides. You will need to do this in two batches, first searing half the beef then setting it aside on plate, then searing the other half and putting the first batch back into the pot
- Add flour into the pot of seared beef, stir it around for 2 minutes to lightly toast the flour, then add the wine. Stir, continuously scraping the bottom of the pan with your spatula to loosen the crisp bits and flour, and let the wine simmer on medium heat for 2 minutes, then tip in the bacon and onions, the mushrooms, the prepared beef stock and the bay leaves then stir gently just to combine. Lay the bouquet garni on top of the stew, grind some black peper into the pot, then cover and let it simmer on very low heat for at least 2 hours – you don’t need to watch the pot and can do get out your MacBook to do some work or a long-overdue batch of laundry.
- After 2 hours uncover the pot and remove the bouquet garni. Tip in the carrot pieces and cook for another 30 minutes. Your Beouf Bourguignon can be served immediately or taken off the heat then re-heated when your guests are ready to eat; or, of course, it can be cooled to room temperature then kept in the fridge for 48 hours, when its flavours will intensify and be extra delicious in the following days.