France

Dish

Boeuf bourguignon is the classic dish from Burgundy, and French comfort food at its finest. It is one of many examples of peasant dishes being slowly refined into haute cuisine. Most likely, the particular method of slowly simmering the beef in wine originated as a means of tenderizing cuts of meat that would have been too tough to cook any other way

Ingredients

  • 2 lb (900 g) braising steak, cut into 2 inch (5 cm) squares
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 heaped tablespoon plain flour
  • 15 fl oz (425 ml) red Burgundy (or other red wine or dry cider)
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 12 oz (350 g) shallots
  • 2 x 130 g packs cubetti pancetta or 225 g smoked or unsmoked streaky bacon, bought in one piece, then cut into cubes
  • 4 oz (110 g) dark-gilled mushrooms, cut into chunks
  • salt and freshly milled black pepper

Method

Bring 1¼ tablespoons of the oil to sizzling point in the casserole or pan and sear the beef, a few pieces at a time, to a rich, dark brown on all sides. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to a plate as it browns.Next add the sliced onion to the casserole and brown that a little too. Now return the meat to the casserole or pan and sprinkle in the flour, stirring round to soak up all the juices. Then gradually pour in the Burgundy, again stirring all the time. Add the chopped garlic, herbs and seasoning, put the lid on and cook very gently on top of the stove (if the heat is not low enough, use a diffuser). Or transfer to the oven – either way it will take 2 hours. Then, using a bit more olive oil, fry the shallots and bacon in a small frying pan to colour them lightly. Add to the casserole, together with the mushrooms, then put the lid on and cook for a further hour. The French accompaniment of potatoes boulangères and green salad would be good with this, or else tiny new potatoes and ratatouille.